Liquid Fertilizer Application Methods:
Improve Yield and Lower Operating Costs with Casella’s Liquid Fertilizer Irrigation System:
Farmers are tasked with two things. They need to provide enough food to feed the world and they have to do everything possible to protect the land they use, making sure it’ll be available for future generations to use for food growth. Better agriculture education, improved farming practices, more efficient irrigation systems, and current technology has made it possible for the average farmer to produce enough food to keep 155 people fed. That’s a huge change from 1940, when the average farmer only had to worry about feeding 19 people. Better use of liquid fertilizer has played a key role in the improved production levels.
How Liquid Fertilizer Works:
At first glance, it’s difficult to identify the difference between a liquid fertilizer and a granular fertilizer. The most obvious visual difference is that the liquid fertilizer is ground into a fine powder. There are also highly concentrated liquid fertilizers on the market that are meant to be mixed with large amounts of water prior to application.
The difference between the two types of fertilizer is how they’re applied to the crops. Granular fertilizer is applied to the ground and slowly soaks into the soil. It’s considered a slow acting fertilizer and is generally applied to crops and fields were farmers want the nutrients spread out through a multiple month time span. Plants quickly absorb the nutrients provided by liquid fertilizers, which is why so many farmers apply it within days of planting a crop. The extra nutrients ensure the plants grow quickly and are in good health, allowing them to mature in the shortest period of time while increasing overall yield.
Read: Organic Farming FAQ.
Before its application to the fields, the powdered form of the liquid fertilizer is mixed with water. As soon as it’s applied, it starts working. During the past fifty years, an increasing number of farmers have switched to liquid fertilizer, partly because of the great start it provides young crops, but also because blended dry fertilizers have simpler storage requirements and are easier to transport. States such as Michigan report that 50% of all fertilizer sales are liquid fertilizers.
Some liquid fertilizers are set up so that the nutrients are maintained in a suspension agent. The most common suspension agent is colloidal clay. Storing these types of liquid fertilizers is complicated. They need to stay above freezing, can’t be salted, and should only be stored for a short period of time.
Most farmers are very happy with liquid fertilizers. They find that using the liquid not only allows them to focus on key areas that need additional fertilizer but that it also reduces both cost and the chance of runoff. The only down side to liquid fertilizers is storage. Most states, including Michigan, have strict rules regarding how liquid fertilizer can be stored and require special storage containers.
Applying Liquid Fertilizer to Fields:
Most farmers find that plants don’t require a large dose of liquid fertilizer to give them a good start. While the exact amount and type of fertilizer is determined by the soil, most farmers rarely need more than 100 pounds of liquid fertilizer for each acre of corn they’re starting. When applying the fertilizer to the corn, it’s important to watch the nitrogen and potash levels, if they get to high, the seedling will suffer salt injury.
The best time to apply liquid fertilizer to the ground is in the spring or fall when the soil is both cold and damp. In this condition, the soil is primed to absorb the nutrients provided by the fertilizer, which not provides the food plants require, but also reduces the risk of run-off.
Farmers can choose one of two ways to distribute liquid fertilizer to their crops. They can choose to fill a fertilizer tank and use a tractor to spray the field, or they can use an irrigation system that’s already in place. Farmers who use irrigation systems, report lower expenses than those that don’t. Not only does the irrigation system reduce the number of man-hours required to fertilize the field, it also eliminates a great deal of wear and tear on the farm equipment.
Benefits of an Irrigation System for Liquid Fertilizer:
There are several reasons why farmers should incorporate irrigation systems into their fertilization plans. These include:
The farmer can apply the fertilizer as soon as they realize the crop needs an extra boost of Nitrogen
- The irrigation system allows the farmer to be very precise about where the fertilizer is applied, reducing the risk of groundwater contamination
- Crops that have liquid fertilizer applied via irrigation systems, generally show the best growth efficiency
- As a rule, less liquid fertilizer is required
When farmers choose to use an irrigation system to distribute liquid fertilizer, it’s important to make sure the entire crop, and not just a few sections of the field require the extra dose of fertilizer. Adjust the system so that the water flow doesn’t exceed the soil’s ability to absorb the fertilizer. The farmer must be able to control the entire spray of water while the fertilizer is distributed.
Other Fertilizer Options:
For organic farmers who’s farming practices limit the types of fertilizer they can spread on their crops, Casella manufactures and sells a system that simplifies liquid manure irrigation. This reduces the number of man hours that are dedicated to spreading manure to various fields and cuts back on the number of tractors and spreaders the farm must resolve each year.
When it comes to variable rate technology (VRT,) Casella is the industry leader. Farmers throughout the country turn to the company when they’re looking for a cost effective, efficient system for fertilizing an assortment of crops. The Casella liquid fertilizer systems include sensors for improved accuracy with liquid fertilizer application. These sensors not only ensure that the plants get exactly the type of liquid fertilizer they require but also reduces the risk of run-off, over fertilization, while ensuring lowering the farmer’s overall costs.
Read: Vanilla Farming.