zinc

Unlocking the Power of Zinc

 

Getting the small things right can make a big difference—especially when it comes to crop nutrition. 

Zinc needs for corn are relatively small, but given the right environment and nutrient blends, it can add significant yield benefits. Read on to learn more about this essential nutrient.

The Importance of Zinc

Zinc is an essential component in several enzymes required for metabolic processes in crops, including protein synthesis and growth regulation. This crucial micronutrient is largely responsible for plant development, and without it, crops would fail to thrive. Zinc is widely known for its ability to positively impact crop growth and yield productivity.

Zinc Deficiency

Zinc deficiency is a very common problem across the globe in agriculture. It can be caused by low levels of Zn present in the soil profile, an imbalanced fertilizer program, or even other nutrients, such as phosphorus. We know zinc is important, but what happens without it?

  • Because of its role in plant growth, signs of zinc deficiency include minimal new leaf growth, small leaf growth, curled or cupped leaves, discoloration of leaves, stunted stalk growth and overall lower yield and quality.
  • Without zinc, crops are also more susceptible to damage from temperature changes, including cold and drought conditions. Particularly in cold temperatures where mineralization within the soil slows down, crops can take up less zinc from the ground. This is especially important to consider in terms of shallow, sandy soil composition where soil cools dramatically quicker than denser soil. So as we continue to push the limits and plant earlier in the springtime, zinc deficiencies are showing up more frequently in field conditions.

The Impact of Phosphorus on Zinc

Another important factor concerning zinc is its relationship with other nutrients. Phosphorus, another vital crop nutrient, can actually tie up zinc, if not properly balanced. This imbalance can cause harm to the plant and lower yields. Phosphorus isn’t bad, we just need to make sure we use the right ratios when using it in starters to maximize the yield benefits of starter fertilizers.

In the chart below, Dr. Jake shares how several studies have indicated that applying phosphorus starter fertilizer without zinc can actually lower crop yields.

In fact, Dr. Jake saw yields increase by five to seven bushels per acre when zinc is applied. Traditional phosphorus fertilizer can actually prevent zinc uptake, therefore doing more harm than good for the plant. This is why adding zinc is crucial to starter fertilizer application. 

A well-formulated fertilizer will include zinc at a concentration level that can mitigate phosphorus interaction and produce strong, healthy crops. To learn more, or check and see if your starter fertilizer program is balanced, reach out to a Liqui-Grow Sales Applicator!  We are here to help!

Maintaining Zinc

Now that we’ve established zinc’s importance in crop development and yield optimization, let’s talk about how to maintain zinc levels. 

  • Your soil composition greatly impacts your need for zinc and affects your application strategy. As mentioned before, soil density and composition can impact zinc requirements. While temperature plays a role, conditions such as rocky or sandy soil are additional determining factors. Zinc occurs naturally in rocks, so even small rocks within the soil can be a source of zinc for crops (so don’t get too carried away when picking rocks in the field!). Being aware of soil health also means knowing when certain resources or nutrients have been depleted and will need to be replenished to maintain plant health. 

All crops require zinc, but the amount differs based on the crop, where it is growing and the balanced fertilizer applied to it. Dr. Jake has pinpointed where corn responsiveness would be maximized in terms of zinc application, but other crop varieties will differ.

  • Be aware of the signs of deficiency and, in rare cases, toxicity. The ability to identify problems early on means you can properly address the issue and continue growing a strong, healthy and high-yielding crop. Zinc is especially vital during the early stages of plant growth, so be proactive and scout early to set your fields up for success.  

 

If you’re interested in learning more about zinc use in your crop, check out this Liqui-Grow Loop video. 

Want to learn more about Dr. Jake’s research? Check out this overview or watch his 2023 research results summary. 

Embed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKECU92VdbU

Questions? Give us a shout! 

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

What 2024 Tax Changes Could Mean for Your Operation

 

Running a profitable farming venture requires more than reducing input costs and increasing yields. In today’s economy, you also have to manage taxes, payroll and countless other financial variables that dictate your bottom line.

With December 31st knocking on our door, we want to provide our customers with some key insights regarding upcoming tax changes and how they could impact your operation. We met with Dustin Kimball, CPA, to discuss the most pressing issues around tax laws and financial planning for your operation.

In this visit, Dustin outlined changes related to:

  • Iowa State Tax Reductions
  • Section 179 & Bonus Depreciation
  • Estate Planning
  • Capital Equipment Purchases
  • Business Entities
  • And More!

 

Highlight Video (15 minutes)

 

Questions? Give us a shout! 

Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.

A Researcher’s Reward: 2023 Research Plot Results

Our fall L.E.A.D. Academy webinar provided answers for a question on the top of many farmers’ minds this time of year—what worked well, and how can we improve for next season? Watch Dr. Jake’s overview of his 2023 research plot results here, or read on to learn more about his conclusions.

 

Fertilizer Distance Study

We launched our multi-location fertilizer distance study three years ago in preparation for the launch of ExactStrip application. Now, after testing more than 800 plots at 10 locations across three seasons, Dr. Jake is excited to share his findings.

ExactStrip shares RTK guidance lines from the floater to the farmer’s planter, tractor or strip till machine in order to plant as close as possible to the fertilizer bands. Much like a teenager being close to a refrigerator, the closer the plant’s roots are to the fertilizer, the more nutrients the plant will consume.

Dr. Jake tested ExactStrip fertilizer application against broadcast application and a check plot with no fertilizer applied. Each ExactStrip application included a 30” band of full-rate fertilizer, and distances tested ranged from 0” to 15”.

Traditional liquid fertilizer applications tend to occur between 6” and 9” of the planted row—a range that yielded a 2 to 3 bushels per acre increase over broadcast application and 12 to 14 bushels per acre more than the untreated plot in our study. 

With ExactStrip, we are able to place fertilizer within 3” of the row—providing a 5 to 8 bushels per acre yield advantage over broadcast application and 16 to 18 bushels per acre over untreated.

This yield increase proves the value of precision application for maximum crop performance. We are excited for Liqui-Grow customers to continue seeing these results on your own farms. 

If your farm equipment is up to date with RTK capabilities, reach out to your local Liqui-Grow sales representative and ask them about our distance study and ExactStrip technology.

 

Pairing ExactStrip with Strip-Till

Continuing with his ExactStrip research, Dr. Jake conducted a study comparing different approaches for applying fertilizer in strip-till operations. 

ExactStrip application following strip-till performed very well against traditional injected application, and Dr. Jake is optimistic about how these numbers will continue to improve as his research on pairing ExactStrip with various tillage practices moves forward. 

In-Furrow Additives on Corn

Dr. Jake has been studying biological and non-traditional products for corn for the past six years. Through this extensive research, two products stand out. 

 

Micro-AZ and AvailT5 show consistent yield improvements of more than 4 bushels per acre across the 20+ plots tested. Dr. Jake strongly recommends these products for an affordable and reliable yield boost in corn.

Micro-AZ In-Furrow Starter

Micro-AZ caught Dr. Jake’s attention because the formulation centered around azospirillum brasilense—a well-researched bacteria that causes significant increases in corn root hairs, which improves nutrient uptake and leads to consistent yield increases.

 

AvailT5 Additive

AvailT5 is a phosphorus enhancement product that is a valuable additive for any field, particularly ones with pH above 7 or below 5.5 and/or low phosphorus levels. 

Dr. Jake compiled 140 side by side comparisons across 8 sites, and the results show that AvailT5 is effective whether applied in–furrow or with fall suspension fertilizer. According to his research, AvailT5 yields an average return on investment of $13 per acre.

Next, Dr. Jake wanted to compare the impact of AvailT5 on various soil types. When you look at the locations with the ideal conditions for AvailT5 to make the biggest impact, you can see the average yield increase from 4 to 9 bushels per acre, bringing in a $38 per acre return on investment.

Using this knowledge, we’ve come up with an innovative solution to maximize the impact of your investment. By using grid samples to identify areas of the field with high/low pH and low phosphorus levels, we’re able to inject AvailT5 exactly where your fields need it, and skip the areas that don’t. 

This is an application method that can benefit any farmer. Talk to your local Liqui-Grow sales representative to take advantage of AvailT5.

New In-Furrow Additives

While we recognize and appreciate the reliability and consistency of Micro-AZ and AvailT5, we also embrace cutting-edge technology and new products on the market.

This year, Dr. Jake conducted studies involving Maneuver, Utrisha P and Fosters + Pmax. The initial results all show strong performance, but we have smaller amounts of data on these products. Dr. Jake is eager to continue studying their impact on crop yields and gathering more data to help farmers make informed decisions.

 

Foliar Non-Traditional Screening in Soybeans

Another new study for 2023 centered around foliar non-traditional screening in soybeans. The preliminary findings shine a spotlight on one key group of products: amino acid based.

Dr. Jake is confident in the ability of amino acids to provide a strong foundation for soybean additives, ultimately resulting in a high return on investment. This initial research backs this belief, and we will continue to share updates as the study continues.

Starter Fertilizer with Zinc

For his last research update, Dr. Jake shared insights from a study focused on the presence of zinc in starter fertilizers. This research revealed the shocking conclusion that applying starter fertilizer without zinc actually lowers crop yields.

This is because traditional phosphorus fertilizer ties up zinc in the soil, ultimately doing more harm than good for the plant. For a starter fertilizer to truly benefit your crop, it needs to be a well-balanced formulation.

From concluding long-term studies to just beginning new ones, this fall’s L.E.A.D. Academy webinar set the stage for another productive year of unveiling new agronomic insights in 2024.

Want to learn more about Dr. Jake’s research? Text us at 564-220-2508 or email questions@liqui-grow.com.