Published on Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The 2017 season proved to have enough challenges on its own without having to battle the $3.50 corn prices. Those challenges pushed us as farmers to think about more efficient and profitable ways to raise the highest yields possible, and utilizing different techniques and methods when making applications on our farms is a must. Take, for instance, starter fertilizer on corn. Traditionally, we have applied starter fertilizers with the 2x2 system. This places the fertilizer two inches beside the seed and two inches below the soil surface. With this system, you are only placing fertilizer on one side of the row. However, it’s important to remember that most fertilizers like nitrogen tend to move downward rather than laterally. This limits the nutrients that the corn plant can reach early on until the root system develops enough to capture those nutrients before they leach throughout the soil profile.
Beck’s Practical Farm Research (PFR)® team started testing the 2x2x2 system to see if we could optimize the amount of nutrients our crops could access with a starter application. The 2x2x2 system is similar to the 2x2 system, except that it allows us to place nutrients on both sides of the plant. Instead of one coulter, we now have two. The same amount of product is applied as in the 2x2 system; we are just making it easier for the plant to reach those nutrients. With a 2x2x2 application the roots of the plant are able to more evenly reach the nutrients, promoting root and plant health as well as root uniformity.
The 2x2x2 systems that have been tested at our PFR sites include the Yetter Dual 2968 (Figure 1) and the Martin-Till® Dual UMO (Figure 2). The Yetter system mounts between the gauge wheels and the closing wheels and then utilizes a two-coulter system with high-pressure injectors that apply the starter into the trench behind the coulter. The Martin-Till system mounts to the front of the planter unit before the gauge wheels. Even though the picture below does not show row cleaners, you can still use row cleaners with this system. Unlike the Yetter system, the Martin-Till Dual UMO uses a knife to inject the product into the soil profile.
Figure 1: Yetter Dual 2968
Figure 2: Martin-Till® Dual UMO
In 2017, we tested these systems against a traditional 2x2 system, which was the control. The chart below details the number of units of nitrogen applied with each system and the response across a two-hybrid average.
This study was conducted at multiple locations, all of which saw positive results with the 2x2x2 system. The Martin-Till Dual UMO saw an average return on investment (ROI) increase of $25.01 over the control with 60 units UAN. The Yetter Dual 2968 provided an average ROI increase of $23.47 with the application of 60 units UAN. Even though 60 units of UAN provided us with the best results overall, it was only $2.00 more over the ROI of 30 units of UAN. Considering logistics of the 2x2x2 system, applying that many units per acre may not be enough of a return to justify the added units.
Based on this data, it makes sense to make applications that place nutrients on both sides of the row. This practice, and many others, are just small steps we can take to maximize our yield and overall ROI. With tough market prices and rising operating costs, we must continue to educate ourselves on new products and practices that may benefit us on our farms. If you have any questions about these products or practices, please contact your local Beck’s representative. Stay tuned to see how this study nets out in 2018.
Kody VanDyke | Central Illinois PFR Operator
Practical Farm Research (PFR)® is a registered trademark of Beck’s Superior Hybrids, Inc. Martin-Till® is a registered trademark of Martin Industries, LLC.
Author: Jim Schwartz
Categories: PFR, PFR Reports
Tags: Nitrogen, PFR, PFR Report, Starter Fertlizers, Starter applications, 2x2x2, 2x2