As spring weather seems to be more challenging, many growers are considering the use of starter and or pop-up fertilizers. There has been a fair amount of discussion on this topic at recent agronomic seminars and workshops. Evaluation of the agronomic advantages of this management practice is the target of this study. We plan to investigate early response in establishing new seedlings and ultimately if that translates to yield. It is intended to compare application methods individually and in combination. There will be a total of four treatments as described below.
- Two hybrids: DS-4310Q and DS-5144Q
- 33,600 seeds/acre planted
- 4 replications
- Normal management practices – weed control, fertilization, etc.
- Planted May 4
- No starter fertilizer
- Starter fertilizer 2x2 type placement- approx. 30 units of N (50/50 blend of 6-24-6 and 28%)
- Pop-up (on the seed 6-24-6)
- Starter at the same rate and blend as Trt 2 and pop-up (6-24-6)
Sidedress: Treatments 1 and 3 - + 30# N; Treatments 2 and 4 – normal sidedress N. 40 lbs. less than corn on corn study.
Results and Discussion:
Treatment results in Bu/A
2 x 2
Treatment results in % H2O
2 x 2
Each value is the average of four replications.
The table above summarizes in simple average form the results from investigating use of starter and or pop-up fertilizer in the spring of 2020. As a whole, based on the average yields, there seemed little difference in the use of these products. The data suggests a slight 3 bu/A advantage of using some level of fertilizer early in the spring. This would indicate an approximate $12 per acre incentive for using starter in some manner. However, on further analysis when we divide out the data by hybrid, we note a stark difference in hybrid responses. DS-4310Q seemed to respond quite favorably to the use of starter and or pop-up to the point of near a 9-bushel advantage. The second hybrid DS-5144Q had no response to starter fertilizer options. It is common knowledge that hybrids and varieties may respond differently to various agronomic and environmental factors. This is perhaps a clear example of such a difference. This could be a result of the maturity difference, early vigor or ear type among other factors. DS-4310Q tends to have a more fixed ear type, it is a 103-105-day hybrid whereas DS5144Q has more flex to its ear and is more like a 110-12-day hybrid.
Another interesting data note is there seemed to exist less variance in yield and moisture using a 2x2 band than without starter. So could a starter application lead to more consistent yields across a field. Is this supported statistically? The analysis would not indicate that however the trend of the data could lead one to consider such a notion.
If we look at this data from a pure statistical analysis, there was no difference in yield, moisture or test weight among treatments when analyzed at the 90 percent confidence level. The raw data with simple averages as we discussed above may suggest otherwise. As we have stressed at many agronomic meetings, take the information we offer, consider it with other sources, and develop a management strategy that works for your operation.
Does it hurt to use starter or pop-up? Certainly not. The cost of the type of material may be more expensive, however the fertilizer was going to be applied in some fashion. The cost above the next best economical fertilizer form alternative is all that can really be considered. You may also factor in the time cost of more stops during planting.
In conclusion, consider the anticipated spring weather, the hybrid, soil type and crop rotation when making a decision on use of starter and or pop-up fertilizer options. When we encounter cold and wet springs, it can be a good insurance policy that costs little extra to secure. We look forward to investigating this scenario again in 2021.
Corteva Technology Use Agreements
All growers with orders for any Corteva Agriscience brand seed product, regardless of crop or trait (including non-GM products) need to have a signed Corteva Technology Use Agreement in place by September 1. Growers should sign the Corteva Technology Use Agreement electronically at www.agcelerate.com. Signing electronically is preferable, however, paper copies are available at www.traitstewardship.com.