No-Till Notes: Improving Efficiency in Your No-Till Fertility

Take soil tests, select efficient fertilizer products and consider timing and placement to reduce nutrient loss and economically build up soil levels.

Every year we evaluate our management practices to see how we can improve our efficiency. Selecting the right hybrids and varieties are key to our success, but fine-tuning our fertilizer program has also paid big dividends.

There are three main areas that have been key to our fertilizer program’s success: soil testing, proper fertilizer selection and using technology to appropriately apply fertilizer in a time, space and form that allows the crop to access these nutrients most efficiently.

Soil Test Frequently

Our fields are sampled on a 2-acre basis every 4 years so we can get a handle on the field’s variability in pH, phosphorus (P), potassium (K), organic matter and cation exchange capacity, as well as soil characteristics, such as soil type, water holding capacity, soil texture and more. This intense sampling helps us determine how we should manage each individual field.

The soil test data is then put into our precision ag software so we can develop prescription maps for lime and dry fertilizer applications. We variable-rate potash in the soybean years and P on in the corn years to meet our fertility goals.

Dry vs. Liquid

When developing a fertilizer program for your farm, it’s important to think about how to reduce the risk of losing fertilizer and the most economical way to build your soils up to a productive level. Product selection and timing of these applications can have a large impact on how successful you are at achieving these goals.

It’s important to think about…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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