3 fertility questions for seeding time

The key with fertility decisions is to apply all of the 4 Rs — right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place. Missing even one R reduces the yield response from the fertility investment. Make the most of your fertilizer investment.

At the CanoLAB fertility station, attendees had a chance to ask any canola crop nutrition question. Here are three related to seeding…

1. What are safe seed row fertilizer rates for P, S and N?

With lower seeding rates than in the past, this concern is greater than ever. Growers need to keep all seed viable to hit plant population targets. Therefore, the best practice is to put up to 20 lb./ac. of phosphate (max 40 lb./ac. of MAP) in the seed row and put all other fertilizer in a band outside the seed row.

Making this more important is the move to wider row spacings, which increases the concentration of seed-row placed fertilizer. This is all the more reason to keep most of the fertilizer outside the seed row.

Try the Seed-Placed Fertilizer Decision Aid.
Test your seed-placed fertilizer safety
More from Canola Encyclopedia.

2. How useful are biological innoculants?

JumpStart is one of the more common biological innoculants. The active is penicillium bilaii. Jumpstart treatment may provide some benefit when broadcast seeding canola, given the importance of phosphate to seedling establishment. With a broadcast approach, when phosphate is applied it is unlikely to be close enough to the seed to provide the startup benefit.

Read the brief explanation in the Canola Encyclopedia.

3. How effective are seed-row liquid starter solutions?

Many of these are not widely tested in third-party trials, and it often comes down to buyer beware because fertilizer products no longer have to prove merit to get registered.

The key is to assess crop needs and then look at how much product is being applied through these solutions. In the case of phosphate products, a common view among crop fertility specialists is that phosphate is phosphate and formulation does not matter much. Often the best approach is to choose a rate that fits the crop starter needs or removal (depending on your long-term approach to field phosphorus management) and then use a product that provides that rate at the lowest cost, with consideration for farm logistics and seed safety.

For more on phosphate fertilizer and special formulations, read this Canola Encyclopedia section.