John Grove, University of Kentucky plant and soil scientist and director of University of Kentucky’s Research and Education Center, says that if a no-tiller sees the following recommendations for fertilizer on his soil test report, it should raise some questions.
1 Pelletized lime rate of less than 500 pounds.
Acidity is controlled by pounds, Grove says. If the recommendation is less than 500 pounds, he asks, “How much acidity are you going to control with that?”
2 Gypsum rates greater than 125 pounds per acre.
“At 125 pounds of gypsum, you’ll nail a sulfur deficiency no problem,” Grove says. “Unless the subsoil pH is less than 4.8, there isn’t any data in the world that shows that gypsum’s going to help you if you’re trying to put on a ton and thinking you’re going to do something for soil structure.”
3 Liquid humic acids and humates.
In a no-till environment, Grove says that dissolved organic carbon is already 5-10 times higher than it is in a tilled environment. It will be 1,000-10,000 times higher than what could be applied with 3 gallons per acre of liquid carbon in a jug.
4 Chemical fertilizer additives.
Aside from NBPT, DCD and nitrapyrin in certain nitrogen situations, Grove doesn’t recommend most chemical fertilizer additives, noting that he hasn’t found a single phosphorus one that works well for him. “Some don’t work at all,” he says.
5 Biological fertilizer additives.
“People who say they’re going to put microbial bugs in liquid UAN have never thought about salt-cured hams,” Grove says. “That’s what salt does. It kills bugs, all the bugs.”