New Phosphorus Fertilizer Treatment May Significantly Improve Yields

Field tests indicate that compound boosts crop development by preventing chemical fixation, allowing nutrient uptake. Product could hit full market in 2005.

Imgaine gaining 20 more bushels of corn per acre or similarly significant jumps in soybean, wheat and other crop yields. It could be possible next year just just by treating the phosphorus applied to your no-till fields with a new compound designed to improve uptake of the nutrient.

The product, called Avail, is being test marketed this growing season through a dozen or fewer farm suppliers in Iowa, Nebraska, Idaho, Minnesota and Canada. But if all goes as planned, Avail, developed by Specialty Fertilizer Products and being marketed by Cargill, will be widely available for 2005.

Avail was revealed during the 2003 Fertilizer Industry Roundtable in Winston-Salem, N.C., late last fall, when the compound was known only as the experimental P205.

The product developers say that the problem with phosphorus fertilizers has been a lack of availability in the soil. Availability is hampered when phosphorus is fixed by positively charged ions, including those of calcium, magnesium, aluminum and iron, in the soil immediately surrounding the point of nutrient applications. Even under the best conditions, they say, only 20 to 30 percent of phosphorus fertilizer is taken up by the crop during the first cropping season.

Flexibility In Use. Avail, a biodegradable and water-soluble compound, can be applied directly to granular phosphorus fertilizers as a coating or mixed into liquid fertilizers. It works with phosphorus fertilizers such as monoammonium phosphate (MAP), diammonium phosphate (DAP) or fluid ammonium polyphosphate to improve phosphorus availability to plants.

After a treated phosphorus application, the compound…

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