The Case for Soil pH Maintenance

by | Oct 1, 2020 | Ag

Don’t just correct soil pH, maintain it
Soil pH is the foundation for nutrient availability. Correction of soil pH is difficult to consistently achieve because it is affected by challenging weather or field conditions, as well as availability of appropriate application equipment. Rather than correcting soil pH every five years, we are promoting the benefits of maintaining soil pH at a consistent level to maximize yield potential every year.

Andrew Hoiberg, Ph.D. and VP of Research and Development explains why a grower should consider a soil pH maintenance program and some of the benefits.

Proactively manage the nutrient uptake zone
The intent of a pH maintenance program is to create a pH stable environment. A lot of nutrient uptake happens in the top three to four inches of the soil. As those nutrients are transforming, acidification happens.

Our goal is to create a proactively managed nutrient uptake zone by using more frequent, lower rate applications of 98G, about 150-200 lbs/acre. This allows us to concentrate applications to consistently maximize yield.

If we create a hospitable zone for the nutrients to be taken up by the plant, we will achieve a greater maximum yield with this type of application year after year. We don’t have to focus on the full six- to seven-inch plow depth. We are trying to achieve balance in the top three to four inches of soil positively impacting seed germination and early root development.

Include 98G in the dry fertilizer blend
Applying a low rate of 98G, 150-200 lbs/acre, allows us to blend the application with other dry fertilizers and gives us a better chance to get the application done. In the last couple of falls, we have had shorter application windows, which resulted in a large amount of skipped liming applications. If we are not addressing pH, we are not giving the crop its best chance to achieve its maximum yield.

Spread out liming costs
Higher liming applications occur less frequently and may require a substantial financial investment per acre without the benefit of an immediate return. This can be combatted by putting out lower rate, more frequent applications of 98G that are a smaller investment. In recent research trials, lower rate applications of 200 to 300 lbs/acre have increased corn yield by 6 to 8 bu/acre within the season of application. We are seeing good results with this lower rate application of 98G that will have a quicker return on investment.

Fit on rented ground
In scenarios where growers have uncertainty about how long they will farm a given acre, 98G is a good tool to consider. Because of its rapid reactivity, it enables the grower to reap the agronomic and economic benefits of managing soil pH within one growing season.

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