Do I Need Sulfur?

It is a question asked more often today than in the past by farmers.  The answer is generally yes.  The plant needs sulfur to properly utilize nitrogen.  Sulfur will enhance nitrogen use efficiency and promote higher protein values.  Factors that influence the need for annual sulfur applications:

    1. High yields
    2. Cleaner atmosphere – less sulfur from coal burning utilities
    3. Less impurities in the fertilizer and ag chemicals

In Table 1, the unit removal for sulfur is shown.

Table 1: Sulfur Removal Values

CropSulfur Removal (lbs/unit)
Corn Grain0.07/Bu
Corn Silage1.10/T
Corn Stover3.00/T

Source: Plant Food Update & Removal, Int’l Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI)

With today’s higher crop yields, I am recommending annually 15 lbs. S/A for corn and 10 lbs. S/A for soybeans.