Managing crop nutrition in a changing climate

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Uncommon weather is becoming more common. Extreme weather has implications for managing crops and their nutrition. To adapt, what should you be considering in terms of strategies for managing plant nutrients?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released a special report on extreme weather events. While its most confident prediction is a global increase in heat waves, it also states “It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy rainfalls will increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe.” In particular it projects increased heavy rain events in winter months for most of the eastern and northern portions of the Corn Belt. The report also notes that while some areas of the world appear to be on a trend to longer and more severe droughts, central North America seems to be going the other way. Projections for floods, tornadoes and hail are acknowledged to be almost impossible to predict.

Adaptation is ongoing. As a producer you can adapt to increased temperature by choosing crops and cultivars that tolerate hot weather, and by planting crops earlier. With more intense rain events, the importance of conservation tillage to protect soil and nutrients from erosion and runoff will only increase. And there are also important considerations for managing crop nutrition. What happens to the choices for right source, rate, time and place when the weather becomes less stable?

Source. You have choices that influence the fate of the nutrients you apply, particularly N. You can slow the release of urea with coatings, or delay its conversion to ammonium with an inhibitor. Other inhibitors delay the transformation of ammonium to nitrate. These forms differ in how they move and are transformed in wet soil during periods of excess moisture. Some can also prevent salt injury in dry soil. Consider the weather in your choices of source.

Rate. If yield goals were hard to set in the past, they may be even more difficult to predict in the future. If you felt you needed a little extra for insurance with normal weather, the temptation may increase when weather becomes more variable. There are alternatives! Particularly for N, you can use crop sensors and/or weather-driven crop models as decision support tools. These tools can help you take into account and respond to the dynamic changes in weather.

Time. Splitting the dose into multiple applications can help minimize risk of loss and maximize nutrient supply to the crop. Does your equipment enable you to take advantage of narrow application windows that open up? Can you respond to short-term forecasts that assure that applied nutrients will stay in the soil? Can you fit your application timing to the growth stages of crops that might happen earlier than usual? These are questions to ask when reviewing your investment in application equipment.

Place. If rainstorms are more frequent and intense, leaving nutrients on the soil surface makes even less sense than before. Placing nutrients in the soil close to where the roots are growing adds resiliency to your crop management. Invest in equipment that can place the right nutrients in the soil at the right time, rapidly enough to fit application windows that might be shorter and at different times than in the past.

Experiment to adapt. This spring in Ontario Canada some farmers planted small areas to corn in March. Much earlier than generally recommended! But each time you try something new, provided you keep good records, you learn something, and it may turn out to be more valuable than you expected.

The adaptive management built into 4R Nutrient Stewardship emphasizes learning from results. Following 4R principles can help empower you to make the right choices in response to a changing climate.


Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...


Comments (2) Leave a comment 

Name
e-Mail (required)
Location

Comment:

characters left

Jon    
UK  |  July, 04, 2012 at 04:30 AM

Again another article seems to believe that crop nutrition begins and ends with N application. Only complete and balanced nutrition will responsibly maximise production. We should be encouraging full and affordable soil and leaf analysis. Such as where I get mine from Lancrop in the UK www.yara.com/analysis

Jon    
UK  |  July, 04, 2012 at 04:30 AM

Again another article seems to believe that crop nutrition begins and ends with N application. Only complete and balanced nutrition will responsibly maximise production. We should be encouraging full and affordable soil and leaf analysis. Such as where I get mine from Lancrop in the UK www.yara.com/analysis


Grain Storage Systems

Behlen Grain Storage Systems offers large capacity bins with diameters from 16’ to 157’ and capacities exceeding 1,500,000 bushels. All ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form