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Success is bound to come when even the performance of water is held to a higher standard as it is on Keith Schlapkohl’s Stockton, Iowa, farm.
After years of experimenting with equipment, soil tests, inputs and other areas, Schlapkohl has found a “U-Trough approach” that has him on track for reaching a 300-bushel-per-acre corn average. He consistently yields in the mid 200-bushels and his yield monitor jumps to over 300 bushels on his best-yielding acres.
“There are no magic bullets. That’s why I use a systems approach,” Schlapkohl says. “Take out any one of these steps and I can’t guarantee results.”
Schlapkohl views the planter as a precision nutrient-placement tool.
“You can do all you want with RTK or strip-till, but when you do strip-till, the nutrients are 6 to 8 inches under the seed,” he says. “I want the seed to get nutrients the day we start.”
Schlapkohl achieves this by creating an in-furrow package for the seed. It includes 26 ounces per acre of Micro-Pack, which contains live bacteria and enzymes. He also uses food-grade phosphoric acid starter (8-19-3), rather than spent phosphoric acid, which can contain lead. The starter is diluted with reverse-osmosis water to a rate of 2.5 gallons starter with 2.5 gallons water.
“Reverse-osmosis water is pure and increases the potency of the fertilizer,” Schlapkohl explains. “One grower I know gained 15 bushels per acre when he went from 5 gallons of starter to 5 gallons of starter plus 5 gallons of reverse-osmosis…