Growers facing a myriad of weather and soil conditions often look to starter fertilizers to help ensure plants get off to a strong start. Starters provide various benefi ts to crops, including:

•       Early plant growth

•       More uniform plant size

•       Stronger root systems

•       Potential for earlier crop maturity

•       The addition of a fertilizer enhancer and/or manager can help further stimulate nutrient uptake by ensuring the nutrients in the starter solution are available for the plant to use

During the spring, cooler temperatures and weather can wreak havoc on nutrients, making them susceptible to multiple forms of loss. Phosphorus is very susceptible to being tied up or fi xated in the soil. Fertilizer enhancers such as AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer from SFP can help reduce P fi xation and increase P uptake by the plant.

Research shows 75-95% of applied P fertilizer never makes it to the crops’ roots (Mortvedt, 1994); instead, it is tied up in the soil by elements such as calcium, iron, aluminum and magnesium. AVAIL increases P availability and has proven particularly benefi cial for growers using starter fertilizer programs.

From 2002-2010, data collected from 75 AVAIL starter fertilizer trials, including many by universities, independent researchers and on-farm trials, showed an average 7.8 bu./A yield increase (2x2 and infurrow liquid starter applications).

This trial from Illinois shows the benefi ts of AVAIL added to the P in a starter mix:

Proof in the fi elds:

Jeremy Olson, agronomist with Pederson Seed & Services, Hiawatha, Kan., worked with soils having an 8.2 pH level. He found that P-enhancing products, such as AVAIL, enable more P to be taken up by the plant, resulting in a healthier, higher-yielding crop.

Olson conducted a fi eld study in 2009 comparing corn yields. He tested two different starter fertilizer mixes: 6-24-6 and 9-18-9, both with and without AVAIL. He applied 30 pounds per acre P2O5 through a subsurface-drip irrigation system (i.e., SDI) at the V7 growth stage. AVAIL was added at a 0.5 percent volume/volume basis.

To make nitrogen a non-limiting nutrient factor, surface urea was applied at 160 pounds per acre. A 2X2 starter fertilizer of 17-17-0 was applied with the planter at 8.4 gallons per acre.

Olson found that both starter and injected fertilizer, paired with AVAIL, affected grain yield:

“AVAIL especially increased grain yield in the 2X2 starter treatments,” says Olson. “Split-applying starter fertilizer at planting increased grain yield considerably in each respective treatment. We found a 10- to 12-bushel-peracre increase in the 2X2 starter treatments.”

Starter fertilizers can give crops an extra boost to help increase early plant growth, nutrient uptake and yields. The addition of AVAIL will help make sure P stays available for the plant’s use.