Commodity price projections indicate farmers will continue to face tight margins again this year. Delivering higher yields and more bushels in the bin begins with managing nutrient applications to ensure crops get a strong start and are able to convert vital nutrients into more grain. As crops begin to emerge, time is short to fine tune nutrient management strategies that impact yield.

It won’t be news to farmers that maximizing nitrogen (N) uptake is crucial to seeing an impressive yield. Gary Tuxhorn, Ph.D., principal scientist with United Suppliers, acknowledges it can be tricky to manage those nutrients to ensure the highest efficiency and return on investment.

“Nitrogen utilization in the soil is complex,” said Tuxhorn. “Most of the nitrogen that goes into the plant is used to make amino acids and build protein, to build chlorophyll and to increase the rate the plant takes in nutrients from the soil. These are all critical functions to the health and success of any crop.”

Plants need a strong metabolism and root system to take up adequate amounts of nitrogen during key growth stages. With more roots and shoots established, crops can access more nutrients in the soil and work to build a robust plant, and that can mean greater yield.

The nitrogen cycle and loss of N to the environment also affects return on fertilizer investment. Making the most out of each and every input decision remains crucial to on-farm profitability.

In an effort to make the most of their nitrogen investments, Verdesian Life Sciences recommends turning to foliar-applied nutrient technologies, such as Take Off, as part of their overall fertility program on corn, soybeans and wheat.

“Take Off has been tested and proven through multiple trials over the course of several growing seasons,” said Ryan Bond, Ph.D., vice president of marketing at Verdesian Life Sciences. “We have consistently seen results in earlier development of secondary roots on corn, increased root development and nodulation on soybeans, and an increase in winter wheat yields by 7-10 Bu./A*.”

Tuxhorn and his team at United Suppliers have observed the benefits of Take Off through their Symbol/Advance product, which is powered by Take Off technology and includes essential nutrients, such as sulfur and potassium. He explains Take Off works to build the biological function of the plant by increasing the rate at which it is doing photosynthesis and increasing its demand for nitrogen. When the rate of photosynthesis increases, so too does nitrogen utilization. This results in larger stalks and leaves, faster and denser canopy development and greater yield potential. These larger, healthier plants are able to catch more sunlight, take up more nutrients and fend off yield-limiting stressors.

Tuxhorn and Bond recommend farmers work with their agronomists and retailers to develop a nitrogen use efficiency plan that ensures soil and tissue sampling are driving input decisions, timing and rates that can improve plant health.