Buyer beware with novel fertilizer products

Think critically when it comes to input investments. Canola plants, like any other plant, need many different nutrients and rely on naturally-occurring hormones to grow and produce a good yield. Limitation on any of these may reduce yield potential. But, in most cases when it comes to crop nutrition, the biggest return on investment comes from nitrogen, followed by sulphur and phosphorus fertilizers.

However, if yields have plateaued and a grower can’t squeeze any more yield out of the land no matter how much N, P and S rates increase, then determine what is limiting further yield gains before investing in additional inputs. Is moisture the limiting factor? If moisture is plentiful and there is no other good explanation for disappointing yields, then perhaps consider a trial of potash, micronutrients or another novel product. A soil test would be useful to see what micronutrients may be limited.

If a grower decides to try something new, find a uniform field, try one product at a time and leave an untreated check, ensuring both treated and untreated areas are accurately measured for final yield and grade so a true economic comparison can be made. In reality, some products may provide a good payoff for the price, but that payoff may only materialize one year in 4. A few years of trials may be required to get a true picture of the economics before making a final decision. Check out these strip trial tips for more insights on how to get the best possible information from your own on farm research.

Click here for more on product choices. Under the heading for each nutrient, look for the “Product choices” heading.