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Mercer Landmark :: Agronomy :: Crop Nutrients

Crop Nutrients 101

Besides nature's contributions of sunshine and rainfall, nothing is more critical to producing a successful crop than the nutrients it needs to grow and produce a high yield. These critical nutrients are supplied predominantly through the soil and taken up by the plant's root system. Some of these nutrients are always in adequate supply in the soil, but some need to be supplemented with commercial fertilizers and/or animal manures. The three nutrients required in larger amounts which almost always require additional amounts over and above what is available in the soil are nitrogen(N), phosphorus(P), and potassium(K). There are also secondary and micro-nutrients utilized by the plant in much lower amounts that may require additional fertilizer to meet the crop's needs. This is especially true with today's new higher yielding varieties, and changing environmental conditions.

The best way to determine the levels of many of these nutrients in the soil is through soil tests. A soil test will tell which nutrients are in adequate supply, and which nutrients need to be supplemented with additional fertilizer. This is especially true for phosphorus and potassium. The other key element a soil test provides is the pH of the soil. It is important to maintain the proper pH in the soil so that these key nutrients needed for plant growth are available to the plant. If the soil becomes to acid (pH's below 7) or too alkaline (pH's above 7) it can affect nutrient availability and plant growth. In northwest Ohio soils we typically need to add lime (calcium carbonate) to keep our soil pH from becoming too acidic for optimum plant growth.

Another way to determine if a plant is deficient of certain nutrients is tissue testing of the plant itself. This can be done in season at different growth stages of the crop, and can be useful in both preventing nutrient deficiencies, or in helping to identify which nutrients are deficient causing symptoms to appear in the plant. Many times these deficiencies can then be corrected by making a foliar spray application of the particular nutrient(s) deficient in the plant.

The next step?

Mercer Landmark's agronomy branches are ready to help you with all phases of crop nutrition. Beginning with soil testing, we offer both conventional and site-specific precision soil testing options for our customers. Based on those test results we will make fertility recommendations tailored to each field's fertility levels and yield goals. Each agronomy branch has a full range of both liquid and granular fertilizers available to meet your needs. We also act as a broker for poultry litter from area poultry operations which allows our customers the option of using litter to supplement their field's nutrient requirements

(click here for more information on our poultry litter).

Mercer Landmark also offers in-season tissue testing to help you diagnose any nutrient deficiencies that show up, as well as a complete line of foliar applied products to correct or help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

And Mercer Landmark is equipped to do custom application of any of the crop nutrient products we offer. This can free up your time to work on other important aspects of your farming operation requiring your time and attention.

Crop Nutrients- A Rapidly Changing Environment

It wasn't too many years ago farmers didn't have to spend much time tracking the fertilizer markets. Fertilizer prices were fairly stable, and there was rarely a shortage of products. All that has changed with today's global marketplace. With the population growth and economic development of countries like China and India, increased fertilizer demands worldwide have forced US farmers to have to compete in this expanded market for fertilizer products they need to grow a crop. This makes pre-planning and ordering the quantities of fertilizers you will need ahead of time so much more important. Mercer Landmark's agronomy branches will work with you to make sure you have the products you need to maximize your yields, and keep your operation going strong.

Below are some useful links to external sources concerning crop nutrients:

CHS Crop Nutrients News
The Fertilizer Institute "Facts and Stats"


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