With seed in the ground and a cold, wet spring left behind, scouting season is in full swing. The Mosaic Company is sharing five tips to properly identify and correct nutrition deficiencies to help farmers pursue higher yields.
SCOUT stands for Study the whole field, Consult the experts, Optimize available data, Use new tools, and Think it through. Mosaic recognizes how often technologies and tools change in agriculture, and wants to give farmers an easy way to remember how to properly scout their fields for deficiencies.
"A farmer's work is never done," says Kyle Freeman, Ph.D., director, new product development, The Mosaic Company. "We know how much a farmer juggles at any given time, but we also know how important it is to scout fields throughout the growing season. SCOUT is an easy way for farmers to remember the finer points of scouting a field thoroughly and effectively, which in turn will help them reach higher yields."
To appropriately SCOUT fields, farmers should:
Study the Whole Field. Scouting plants for nutrient deficiencies is an art form. It can't be done well from the driver's seat of a truck. Farmers should look through several areas of their fields — both on the end rows and in the middle of the field — to find signs of deficiency. The best signals reside in leaf tissue and stalk quality. If either looks weak or even remotely suspicious, take action.
Consult the Experts. Crop consultants, retailers and agronomists are available to help farmers find and correct problems. Nutrient deficiencies can best be found with tissue testing, but when time is scarce, bring in an expert opinion. Remember, when visual signs of deficiency are found, the yield potential has already been compromised. Finding nutrient deficiencies early is the best way to minimize the impact on yield.
Optimize Available Data. Some nutrient deficiencies in certain crops look similar to others, so rely on the data from previous years' tissue and soil samples when developing a fertilizer plan. Comparing data from tissue and soil tests from previous years can also help inform a balanced crop nutrition plan for the future. Is there a trend forming? Do the symptoms of nutrient deficiency match what is expected from a particular field? Use the enormous amount of data available today to proactively address nutrient deficiencies and minimize yield loss.
Use New Tools. Scouting fields can be challenging, and today's technology is designed to assist farmers in quickly and accurately identifying problems in the field. From pocket guides to mobile apps, there are more tools than ever to help scouting be as productive as possible. Mosaic recommends visiting CropNutrition.com's Periodic Table of Nutrients for visual examples of nutrient deficiencies on a wide variety of crops.
Think It Through. Once nutrient deficiencies are confirmed in fields, good decisions need to be made. There are a variety of fertilizer products available on the market, all with different response rates and costs. Consult with your retailer or agronomist to determine which product and application method will give you the best return, ultimately increasing yields in the fall.