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Fuel Plants With Micronutrients

Jan 15, 2021

Don’t have the perfect soil? You still need a plan.

Do you have acres with suboptimal yield potential due to less-than-ideal soil pH levels or poor drainage? Maybe you have rented ground that you don’t want to invest in heavily. If so, a customized nutrient plan lets you know what those acres are doing, helps you manage those acres appropriately and may even allow you to spend less on nutrients in the process.

There are seventeen nutrients essential for plant growth. The nutrients that we apply in relatively large amounts to fields each year are known as macronutrients, but often overlooked micronutrients could be holding you back from taking your productivity to the next level. Micronutrients are essential for plant growth and play an important role in balanced crop nutrition. Although plants don’t require as much of them, a lack of micronutrients in the soil can limit growth and yield, even when all other nutrients are present in adequate amounts. 
How do you know if your crop is lacking in an essential micronutrient? NutriSolutions® tissue testing is a tool that can be used to measure the actual concentration of nutrients in the leaves of corn, soybeans, and other crops. This informational test, which takes 2-3 days to complete, provides an invaluable in-season insight to the current nutritional status of your crop. A tissue sample increases return-on-investment by predicting exactly which nutrients, if any, should be applied to your crop.
When is the best time to collect a tissue sample? Tissue testing should be used immediately before key times in the lifecycle of a corn or soybean plant so that we have an opportunity to affect yield in a positive way. For example, the corn plant establishes the number of rows on an ear at V5, so collecting a tissue sample at V4 or early V5 allows us to determine if a field is lacking in essential micronutrients like zinc, manganese, or boron that are involved in photosynthesis and ear formation. 
Similarly, boron is also important to the success of a corn crop due to its role in pollination. Collecting a tissue sample a few days before tasseling allows us to determine if boron is an appropriate addition to a fungicide application.
Over the past seven years, River Valley Cooperative has collected over 5,000 tissue samples from Iowa and Illinois corn and soybean fields using the NutriSolutions® program. This intensive sampling effort has shown that a majority of early season corn fields (V4-V6) are deficient in, or responsive to, zinc (82%), manganese (79%), and boron (97%). While all three of these micronutrients are also important to soybeans, manganese is especially deficient or responsive across all growth stages; nearly 81% of soybean samples collected by River Valley Cooperative were lacking in manganese.
After a tissue sample has been collected, and you have a report, what do you do next? Depending on the nutrients that are lacking, there are several ways that micronutrient deficiencies can be addressed. The easiest, fastest way to address an in-season deficiency, however, is usually a foliar micronutrient application. The MAX-IN® family of foliar micronutrients provides several options to address the most common micronutrient deficiencies in Iowa and Illinois fields. MAX-IN®Ultra ZMB®provides the three most commonly limiting nutrients (zinc, manganese, and boron). Depending on the level of boron deficiency, MAX-IN® Boron is used to supplement extra boron. Finally, for soybean fields where manganese deficiencies are probable, MAX-IN®Ultra Manganese is a great option.

Make a Plan This Spring

If you took tissue samples last season, review test results with your agronomist to determine the nutrient needs you may have 2021. If you don’t have tissue samples from your farm, talk with your local River Valley Cooperative account manager about accessing a tissue sample data set from your area to find out what micronutrient deficiencies might be evident in your geography.


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