PODCAST: 3 Ways To Improve Your Starter Fertilizer Program
22 Feb 2422m 13s

Getting your crops off to a healthy start is critically important to your yield come harvest time. Do you put down fertility at time of planting? If so, are you and your crops getting the maximum bang for your buck? Damian Mason talks to Kelly Garrett and AgroLiquid’s Aaron Stahl about three considerations for a more effective starter fertilizer program on every farm — seed safety, nutritional balance, and compatibility. With so much riding on early plant development, it’s important you get this right! 


This episode is presented by CLAAS

00:00 Do you have questions about your starter fertilizer program? Are you altering your starter fertilizer program? 00:04 Should you alter your starter fertilizer program? That's where we're talking about three considerations for an effective starter fertilizer program on your farm. 00:15 Welcome to Extreme ags Cutting the Curve podcast, where real farmers share real insights and real results to help you improve your farming operation. 00:24 This episode of Cutting the Curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more 00:31 with a wide range of tractors, combines, foragers and hay tools. Cloth is a family business just as driven, demanding, 00:38 and dedicated as yours. Go to cloth.com and start cutting your curve with their cutting edge equipment. 00:44 And now here's your host, Damien Mason. Hey there. Welcome to another fantastic episode of Extreme as cutting the curve. 00:50 I got Kelly Garrett, one of the founders of Extreme Mag, and I've got Aaron Stall. He's with Agro Liquid. 00:55 We're talking about three considerations for an effective starter fertilizer program. Kelly actually has started to remove some of the fertility 01:03 that he puts out at time of planting. Uh, he talks about it before we hit record it. Sometimes maybe Chad Henderson has a different set 01:10 of circumstances, different soil type, different conditions, different, uh, soil temperature, et cetera, et cetera. 01:15 So we're gonna go in the considerations when you want to use starter fertilizer. Aaron, uh, 01:20 before we hit record, we outline three big things, and I'm gonna go ahead and hit 'em. And then I want you guys to both address them. 01:25 Each three considerations for an effective starter fertilizer program. First seed safety, making sure 01:30 that the fertilizer does not somehow cause a problem for the seed. Second nutritional balance, making sure that 01:38 we have the right amount of fertility, nutritional balance that is needed going in based on your condition, 01:44 soil test, et cetera, et cetera. Objectives, compatibility is the third thing. Compatibility, making sure 01:49 that it works within your planting system. So go with number one, seed safety. Is this really an issue? I guess I'll go with, uh, Aaron and then Kelly. 01:59 Is this really an issue? It, it all depends on the fertility or using. Okay. When I get a guy that stops by 02:06 and asks me about, uh, in furrow programs, things like that, I first ask number one, how you placing it? 02:12 Um, are you using like a, why not a Keaton seed firmer with a why knot? Are you placing it totally tubular under the seed? 02:17 You bathing the seed? Find out what they're doing currently is, uh, first step for me. And then I go into telling the guys, you know, 02:24 just be cognizant of what products you're using. You know, on the conventional side, conventional liquid side, stay away from hydroxides, 02:31 suspension, chlorides, um, things of that nature. Um, spent acids, uh, 10 34 oh has a lot of different grades. The darker, uh, brown or anything like that is spent acid. 02:41 So you can definitely have some seed damage and injury with that point. Um, and then also, you know, again, back to the placement, 02:47 uh, and the rates you're running is another concern for, uh, the conventional side. 02:52 But as far as us, um, I can get away with a lot more than, uh, the conventional liquids 02:58 Seed safety. You didn't take out some of your starter fertilizer because of that issue, but is that an issue? 03:05 Kelly? Seed safety is an issue. You know, you can't run a bunch of 28% nitrogen in there in the furrow. 03:12 You know, that's why we have a two by two you the different grades of fertility. You know, just because it's the cheapest 03:19 doesn't mean it's the best deal. Uh, like Aaron talked about the, the different grades of 10 34, oh, what, you know, would commonly be known 03:27 as a high salt fertility, things like that. I really don't think that, uh, farmers understand those different grades 03:34 and how it can be damaging. You need to have a very clean fertilizer in the furrow, in my opinion. 03:40 And you need to pay attention to what nutrients they are. Again, no nitrogen, not a lot of boron in the furrow. 03:45 Things like that has to be paid attention to. What happens if I get it wrong. Uh, is it, does it mean that the seed doesn't germinate? 03:55 It means that it looks just fine and then all of a sudden I find out that I, I harmed it. Uh, when the combine's running, what, what does, 04:01 what does seed injury look like? If I get my starter fertilizer wrong, Aaron? Uh, first thing I go out and look at is emergence. 04:09 Uh, that's a big, uh, sign right there. If you have a lot of skips, things like that, you dig them seeds up, find out 04:17 are they, did they start to germinate? Did they just lay there? What's going on? And then you can also go on the, if they do germinate, um, 04:23 you can look at the root damage too. You can root degradation, root tip burn, things like that. There's a lot of different things you can look for. 04:29 But first is emergent, Right? Delayed and or uneven emergence is kind of a, a sign of it. And then you're gonna have to do a dig 04:37 to see what the problem might be. Yep. Kelly, have you have, have you done this? Have you stunned your seed? 04:44 Have you given yourself an emergence problem because you've got your starter fertilizer program wrong? I 04:51 Think that the bigger problem we have had is not getting an ROI out of it 04:56 because we tried to put too many things in there or things that we didn't need. You know, working with Evans the way we have, uh, he, 05:02 he watches that safety aspect. And with his years of experience, we've never burned anything like that, um, 05:09 that I know of it. It's more of a financial problem instead of a a, a seed injury problem. 05:15 But, but it's very, very well can happen. Uh, you know, worst case scenario, it doesn't germinate. Uh, best case scenario, it does germinate, 05:23 but it, it does burn the roots like Aaron's talking about. And, and at the end of the day, at the end of the season, 05:30 it does result in a yield loss. Absolutely. Yeah. Right, right, right. And and you prob you probably know that Aaron, don't, 05:36 you probably know that by the time you're realizing that you've got skips and uneven emergence, you're like, this is gonna end up costing me when the combine runs. 05:43 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You just gotta take out, you know, what the plant population was and figure out percent loss. 05:49 And, you know, there's always gonna be some loss. You plant 38,000. You don't, you, you never get 38,000 out there. 05:55 But you know, you gotta start looking at, did I lose 1200 plants, 2000 plants per acre? Then you gotta start doing the math. 06:00 Figure out what you need to do. There were two things. Nutritional balance, all starter fertilizers are not the same, which is good. 06:08 'cause they, uh, answered different problems when you talked about nutritional balance. 06:12 This goes to Kelly, we'll go with you first. You and I just recorded recently about a balanced plant. So you've been much more, um, 06:20 you've been getting me on this whole balance thing lately about I'm, I'm, I'm sure this is inspiration from your kid 06:25 cheese who goes out and puts his bare feet on the ground to get grounded. So I'm, he's grounded. The balance thing 06:30 and cheese all go together, right? That's right. Yes, absolutely. You know, we're looking for 06:35 nutritional balance in the plant. We're looking for nutritional balance in the soil when, uh, in the soil that starts for us with a base saturation, 06:43 uh, calculation. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, hydrogen in the plant. It's a nitrogen balance. The plant takes amino acid. 06:52 The plant takes micronutrients, produces amino acids to convert to nitrogen, to protein with our soil. You know, all the other guys at extreme ag, 07:00 you've heard 'em, they gimme a hard time about the Iowa soil, rightfully so. It's cranking out. It's a fact. The Iowa soil is a factory. 07:07 It's cranking out nitrogen, it's cranking out other nutrients as well, but nitrogen and we're, our plants get out of balance. 07:16 So we very much pay attention to the micronutrients. That's why, you know, we, we have a very balanced micronutrient load that we like 07:23 to put in there, but balance for us means that we're gonna spike some extra zinc and we're gonna spike some extra calcium along with, 07:32 you know, just your prepackaged micronutrient product. Is this as hard? I mean, there, there's a lot here, Aaron. There's an array of products. Your company has a lot. 07:45 There's other companies that have a lots of them. And now we're talking about a different soil. We're talking about different temperatures, 07:51 different crop needs, et cetera. It seems like I could be a little overwhelmed here on the nutritional balance aspect of this. 07:57 I understand seed safety, number one consideration. This, this consideration seems to have a little more complexity. 08:02 Simplify it for me. Well, basically what Kelly's talking about is just meeting those needs of what that plant needs at certain times. 08:10 And with, with what we do, we try to give you products that number one, you know, orthophosphate ties up in 10 to 15 days. 08:17 Once that soil reaches 55 degrees, it's cranking, it's gonna tie up, go back to its normal source, which is calcium phosphate. 08:24 So we do things different with our products, try to make it so they stay readily available to that plant. 08:30 Or on the flip side, they start to, they slowly break down and release for those different 08:34 curves and uptakes of that plant. And the sources we use are more pure. And you, again, then they can, they're compatible. 08:41 They mix and meet those needs of that grower to fill in those gaps that Kelly's trying to hit with. Whether it's calcium, whether it's, you know, uh, 08:49 phosphorus trying to hit early season or different things like that, or different micronutrients As far as boron. 08:54 Don't, we have almost all, whether you're, you know, we talk about Chad down in Alabama, we talk about you in Iowa from whether it's corn 09:02 or beans or wheat or whatever. Don't we also, isn't it maybe one way to simplify it, Kelly, don't we almost have a universal, 09:12 aren't the needs pretty basically the same no matter what when it comes to this? Is that time of planting unless your soil is way off, 09:21 aren't you talking about it's really not all that different? 'cause it's, you're talking about trying to get germination, 09:25 you're usually going into colder soil and whether it's corn, bean, wheat, whatever that thing is. So maybe the way to simplify it in my head is it's really 09:33 not that different because it's kind of like feeding a baby. Babies need certain nutritional things at the beginning. 09:40 No, that that's true. And, and, you know, especially if you're just starting your starter fertilizer journey, that's absolutely correct. 09:46 Take, uh, take a prepackaged, micronutrient, uh, product and put it in there. You know, maybe look at some phosphorus 09:53 or potassium if you think you need that, depending on your soils. We have chosen to take the p and k out. 10:00 Now we are talking about putting some phosphorus back in, especially for the earlier season when the, 10:04 uh, soil is cold. But what we focus on, again, because of the balance and the nitrogen, we focus on the micronutrients, 10:11 which again would be a place for a guy to start. We now spike extra zinc in calcium for two reasons. Number one, with that plant food 10:19 byproduct that I talk about. Spraying has a very big load of available phosphorus. You know, it's not, it's not too much, 10:27 but it, the problem with the, the product is that that phosphorus is all available. Your phosphorus to zinc ratio is very important. 10:34 It should be 10 to one. So anytime I put zinc out, I get an economic response. So we put zinc out in the furrow every time we're going 10:42 across the field, we're gonna spook feed some zinc. The other thing is, and this is, you know, Chad's needs, or Kevin's needs, uh, relative 10:49 to mine aren't a lot different, but they have the ability to have soil available, calcium or calcium available in the soil. 10:57 I I didn't mean to sound like Yoda there, Damien. Yeah. Right. They have calcium available on the soda. Yep. Calcium available in the soil. 11:05 I don't, my biggest yielding factor here, just like I talked about when I wanna balance that soil is base saturation. 11:11 Base saturation. Calcium being too high is my number one yield limiting factor. And I don't have, it's so frustrating 11:18 because I have all that calcium that's not available to the plant. That's why we spike extra calcium. 11:23 Having available calcium to me is a very foreign concept, but they do have it. Mm-Hmm. 11:28 So, uh, let's move on. Is there anything else on that one? Seed safety number one, nutritional balance Number two. 11:33 Aaron, we good on that? Yep. Nope. Good. Number three, compatibility works within your planting system. 11:38 This seems like it's a consideration that, uh, should always be there, but sometimes you get caught up in, uh, 11:45 what you saw somebody online talk about. You read about it on Twitter and you didn't even go and think about, wait a minute, this has, 11:51 this is not gonna work the way I do things. It's not gonna work. I can see this being something that would be not a consideration until you, 12:00 until you have a hell of a ha headache on your hands. This is, this is the most entertaining one to talk about. It, it, there's nothing worse than 12:07 mixing up something the planner. And you're all excited about the yield potential. And you turn and you turn it into snot 12:13 and it won't come out of the planet. Cottage cheese, Chad Chad's done it. Cottage cheese. Chad's done it. I've done it. Temple's done it. Holy cow. 12:22 Nothing. You, you wanna make Vernon cheese irritated? Tell 'em they gotta clean the starter system out of the planet. 12:27 Especially when everybody is, you want to be running and planting and you're trying some new stuff. And you know that, that happens with an extreme egg trial. 12:35 I've never had. That's one of the reasons that we work with Aquid as a grower standard practice. Their products play well together. 12:41 They're balanced together. When you start mixing things and you don't know. Holy smokes. Well, 12:46 Isn't it interesting, because it seems to me, Aaron, you're on the, you're on the, the product side. I, I learned about it when I joined Extreme Ag 12:53 and it was like the first spring and Chad's like, I, I lost a day. I lost a day because my planter was so clogged up. 13:01 And I thought, who in the hell makes a product and tells these guys go to the field with it without having figured that this could be an outcome 13:11 because it ain't a good one. And, and that customer will never come back. So isn't it seem like this is, should be like, uh, okay, 13:19 it needs to work and also work. Oh Yeah. We, we tell a lot of people that jar tests, especially when you're going with 13:26 biologicals, things like that. 'cause we don't wanna antagonize anything. We don't want to kill the 13:31 biological you're putting in there. So we've done a lot of research with other companies, testing our products, just so we can eliminate that 13:38 for Kelly to run into, you know, and obviously there's always new products coming out, but we try to address that yearly. 13:44 And I just tell guys, do a jar test. It's, yeah, it says a little time consuming, but we start that now. 13:49 That process is starting now. Mixing things, making sure the new generics coming out that we play with. 13:57 When you Talk about, you know, if it can be, you know, if it can be screwed up, I'll do it. Damien, you know what I did? We had a, the tank 14:04 of phosphorus sitting there for starter. We had the tank and nitrogen sitting there for the two by two. 14:08 One of the pumps quit. So I was getting a load, take it to the planter. I was taking it to Vern and Richie, the pump quit. 14:14 So I'm just like, well, I'll just switch the hose. Oh, and, and the ni the, the nitrogen had all been pumped out, 14:19 but there's still a little bit in the pump in the hose. And I pumped phosphorus through it and I took it to the planters. 14:25 That's a bad idea. Yeah, I won't do that yet. So, so the result was what? Go cottage cheese snot Plugin filters. Uh, 14:33 Is it compatibility? We're talking about snot, we're talking about cottage cheese. 14:36 We're talking about clogging up a system. But there's also the, the thing where there, is there a chance that I take this, these three things, 14:44 put 'em together and they just negated the value of one or the other? Or all of them 14:49 In certain, yep, go ahead. Yeah, especially if it, especially if you're talking about a biological, if you said if you have some harsh fertility, you know, 14:58 harsher fertility, lower grade fertility, and then you're, you're buying this hot new biological that's gonna help you, you very 15:04 well could kill that biological. You need to know what you're doing before you mix that stuff together. 15:08 Got It. And, and not only that, you take an orthophosphate and throw a calcium in with it, you know exactly 15:13 what you're gonna have and it's gonna be a mess on the convention. So Considerations for an effective 15:18 starter fertilizer program. You think now, Kelly, that you have a pretty good starter fertilizer program. Why don't you tell us what you're gonna go to the field 15:24 with this spring after you've made the mistakes, you've caused the cottage cheese, you've created snot, you've had uncompatible stuff, you've burned some seed with, 15:33 uh, seed safety stuff. You've got some balance issues, probably not completely wrong, but you've, uh, perfected that. 15:39 So bearing those three things in mind, seed safety, nutritional balance, and compatibility, what's your starter of fertilizer program look like 15:46 and how has Aaron helped you with that? Our starter fertilizer for corn and beans is exactly the same except for the insecticide 15:54 that goes out on corn. I, I think that that's something, it didn't start out that way, but we've ended up trending in these directions. 16:02 Uh, you know, the bean, the bean fertility, uh, the last couple years has been eight different ingredients. The corn fertility has been nine 16:10 and the only difference is the insecticide. The only fertility we've had the last couple years is micro 500 or micro 1000 for agro liquid. 16:19 And then we've spiked it with calcium liberate and we've also spiked it with their zinc product. The name escapes me right now, 16:25 but we spike some with their zinc product. What we are talking about doing and Is adding, using, by the way, 16:30 everything you just named is something from them. And then we're not doing a commercial here. But no, you've used other, you've used other stuff 16:37 and other, there are other options, I assume for a calcium or a zinc. Now the micro 500, that's a, that's a, a multi 16:46 fertility pack, right? Yeah, it's a, yes. Aaron knows what's in micro 1000. Zinc, manganese, iron, copper, and boron. 16:54 Zinc being the most, because that's what Kelly needs. Okay. Yes. And you know, you know, I'm not trying to tell you, I'm not trying to advertise for agro liquid. 17:02 I want sulfate based micronutrients. That's what they've got. I need extra calcium. Calcium is a really tricky son of a gun 17:11 and their liberate product is the only product that we, that we can find that will play well with anything else. That's the reason that it's there. 17:18 Uh, you know, elements are elements, but we need to find sulfate based products are easier on the seed. 17:24 You talked about seed safety. It's a safety component. Ca liberate calcium, we, we get a response from it, but we could, we could probably get a response from other 17:33 forms of calcium, Damien, but we, you almost have to make a separate pass. Some companies don't even offer a calcium product. 17:41 You'd almost have to make a separate pass because the calcium won't mix well with anything else. And, and obviously that's out of the question. 17:48 So the reason we use the liberate is because we can put it in with a pass. It, it will play well with that. Aaron 17:53 Do and do other people, when he talked about his need for calcium, is this something that's geographical? We're finding out more and more just off 18:00 of the information that Kelly has come up with than the different things, the scenarios he's running into? 18:05 Yes, we're starting to see if that, well, calcium is, you know, everything crosses the calcium on his back. So it's the major vehicle for everything. 18:12 So even guys that are low obviously need it, but him being high, he just knows there's complexation going on. 18:18 So that's what he's trying to get in there, is to get that to that plant. Uh, you said that, uh, in your starter fertilizer system, 18:25 you're also using a thing called pro germ. What's the purpose of that? Kelly? Pro Germ is agri liquid's, phosphorus product. Okay. 18:33 And calcium doesn't play well with, with a lot of other things, especially phosphorus. Mm-Hmm. So they have it, uh, stabilized. 18:42 I don't even know what the right word, Aaron can give you the better word, but you can put Proger cal and, 18:47 and their calcium, their liberate product together. So, and, and I mean, you can't, you can't put another company's phosphorus product with 18:55 with their liberate product. It won't work. So we got, we, we got essentially in this, in this, uh, cocktail that goes out with about four different products. 19:03 We got a calcium, we've got a zinc. We, we've got, uh, we've got a phosphorus, we got boron, we got, tell me again, Aaron, 19:13 Zinc, manganese, iron, copper. He's the micro 1000. He is got meum in it. He is got, uh, cobalt nickel. 19:19 So he, he's got an array of everything he's trying to hit And then Hit the hitch pin of everything. 19:24 And what did we do on, on and, and we didn't say anything about N or K. So is there N or K in this starter? Nope. 19:30 Nope. No, it doesn't. We well, you, you wouldn't put nitrogen in the furrow. You put nitrogen in the two by two. 19:36 We do have nitrogen in our two by two. We've had K in there before. We've had phosphorous in there before. 19:41 And in our trials we haven't gotten an economic response. Now that doesn't mean other people won't, 19:47 that is not a one size fits all comment. Um, with the, again, with the soil we have, again, with the plant food byproduct, we have the p 19:56 and k haven't paid for us historically. Evans now feels that we should reintroduce some phosphorus, which is their pro germ product 20:04 because in the early season, colder soils, all of the corn, you know, I'm gonna have, I'm gonna have 5,000 acres 20:11 of corn on corn this year. He feels that we should put some phosphorus back into the, the system and give it a try. 20:17 I don't know that we'll run it all season, but we're definitely gonna run it early when the soil's cold. 20:23 Got it. Three considerations for an effective starter fertilizer program. Aaron, did we miss anything? You're the fertilizer guy. 20:29 No, I think just understand, well, does it fit your program? Uh, use the right products is the biggest thing. 20:35 Making sure they're compatible not only in the furrow, whatever you're doing, but also fits what Kelly's doing, you know, is the big thing. 20:42 Can he carry five gallons the acre, make sure it fits what they're doing, their operation as Well. Got it. 20:47 And it sounds like you're gonna, you're gonna probably learn from a couple mistakes 'cause uh, e even these guys have, 20:52 but you know what we say here at Extreme Ag, we've made the mistakes so you don't have to. So compatibility is a big one. Obviously. 20:57 Nutritional balance, seed safety, those were the three things we talked about. Three considerations for an 21:01 effective starter fertilizer program. If you wanna learn more, there's literally hundreds of episodes just like this at Extreme Ag Farm. 21:08 Also, hundreds of videos that these guys shoot out in the field. Short little videos that you can use to learn from. 21:12 It's all free. You wanna take your learning, uh, to the next level. You wanna take your farm operation to the next level. 21:18 Extreme Ag Farm is the place for the stuff. But you know what, you can become a paying member $750 a year and you'll get direct access to these guys 21:26 for question form, uh, platforms where you can get, uh, a little deep deeper on stuff. You also get the data that these guys produce on their 21:33 field days and trials. So seven 50 bucks a year, pretty small investment. So next time. Thanks for being here. 21:39 That's Aaron Stall with, uh, aggro Liquid. If you wanna learn more, go to, is it aggro liquid.com? Yep. Aggro liquid.com. And here's Kelly Garrett. 21:48 I'm Dam Mason. Thanks for being here. That's a wrap for this episode of Cutting the Curve. Make sure to check out Extreme ag.farm 21:54 for more great content to help you squeeze more profit out of your farming operation. 21:59 Cutting the curve is brought to you by cloth where machines aren't just made, they're made for more. Visit cloth.com 22:07 and start cutting your curve with cutting edge equipment.

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