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SWEEP Report #44

Comparison of Planters and Fertilizer Application
Systems for No-Till Corn

Researchers: 
M.H. Miller, Department of Land Resource Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont.

Executive Summary

Evaluation Summary (Tech. Transfer Report Summaries)

View / Download Final Report [226 KB pdf]

Associated SWEEP/LSP Research

 

 

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Completed: March, 1992

Key Words:

no-till, fertilizer placement, cross-slot planters, coulter-strip, three-strip band, strip band, phosphorus, corn, yield.

Executive Summary

A project was conducted in response to difficulties being encountered with conventional fertilizer placement systems for corn on no-till planters. To overcome these difficulties, farmers have made various modifications to planters and fertilizer application systems. This project evaluated three recent developments in fertilizer application systems:

  1. a cross-slot planting system developed in New Zealand which results in less soil disturbance than other no-till planters and places fertilizer closer to the seed row than a conventional side band (5 cm to side and 5 cm below)

  2. a strip-band fertilizer application system developed at Guelph which places fertilizer in two strips, one on either side of the row and about 2 cm below

  3. a coulter-strip fertilizer application in which the fertilizer is deposited on the soil surface in front of a fluted coulter.

Experiments were conducted at two field sites in Huron Co. and Oxford Co. in 1990 and at three sites in 1991, one in each of Kent, Huron and Oxford Cos.

The specific objectives of the study were:

  1. To compare the effectiveness of planting and fertilizer application using the cross-slot, strip-band and coulter-strip application systems.

  2. To compare the cross-slot planter with a conventional planter under varying soil conditions.

At each site varying rates of fertilizer were applied based on the phosphorus required according to the OMAF soil test system. Plant samples were collected periodically during early growth stages to determine shoot growth and nutrient concentrations. Final yields were determined at maturity.

The strip band application did not increase early season dry matter or shoot P concentration compared to the side band. Final grain yields were somewhat greater at both sites in 1991 although the differences were not significant at P = 0.05. A similar result was obtained in a previous study conducted in 1989. When the results of the two years were combined, the mean difference (380 kg/ha) was significant at P = 0.08. There was no response to phosphorus at either site in 1990 so a comparison of application methods was not meaningful. It is concluded that the strip band is marginally superior to the side band but the difference is not sufficient to justify the planter modifications required. Yield increases of a similar magnitude can be obtained by applying a small amount of fertilizer with the seed.

The coulter-strip fertilizer application system did not result in significant differences in early shoot growth or nutrient concentration compared to the side band using the same planter for both placements. Similarly there was no difference in grain yield. However, the experiments did not allow a good comparison of the coulter-strip system. In 1990 there was no response to fertilizer P so a comparison of placements is not meaningful. In 1991 the conditions for planting were not good so there was essentially no mixing of the fertilizer with the soil with the coulter-strip system. The location and distribution of P determined in 1990 did indicate that the fertilizer was mixed only with the upper 2-3 cm of soil. This would not be expected to provide phosphorus to plants in the early growth stages.

The cross-slot planter resulted in yields comparable to the Guelph planter. This was our first experience with this system and there were some aspects that could perhaps be improved. We are not confident that we were obtaining the desired fertilizer application rate. Also, increasing the weight on the planting units may be necessary to achieve proper penetration under some conditions. We believe that the cross-slot planter has potential advantages and should be investigated further.

In addition to comparison of planters and fertilizer placement, this study permitted an assessment of the adequacy of the phosphorus fertilizer recommendations for no-till corn based on the OMAF soil test. There were seven field experiments over three years in which fertilizer rates ranging from 1/2 to 4x the recommended rate were applied as a side band with the Guelph planter. At none of the seven sites was there any response to fertilizer P application in excess of that recommended. Averaged over all seven sites, the recommended rate was the most profitable. At most sites, the soil test was low resulting in a recommended rate for P2O5 of 50 kg/ha or greater. In 1990, when the recommended rates were lower, there was no response to fertilizer P. These data indicate that, even with low available P values, current recommendations are adequate.

Evaluation Summary

(From Technology Transfer Report Summaries - A. Hayes, L. Cruickshank, Co-Chairs)

This project was a response to difficulties being encountered with conventional fertilizer placement systems on no-till planters. Three planting/fertilizer placement systems were evaluated:

  1. A cross-slot planting system developed in New Zealand which results in less soil disturbance than other no-till planters and places fertilizer closer to the seed row than a conventional side- band (5 cm to side and 5 cm below)

  2. A strip-band fertilizer application system developed at Guelph which places fertilizer in two strips, one on either side of the row and about 2 cm below.

  3. A coulter-strip fertilizer application in which the fertilizer is deposited on the soil surface in front of a fluted coulter.

The specific objectives of the study were:

  1. To compare the effectiveness of planting and fertilizer application using the cross-slot, three strip-band and coulter-strip application systems.

  2. To compare the cross-slot planter with a conventional planter under varying soil conditions.

Results:

It is concluded that the strip-band is marginally superior to the side-band but the difference is not sufficient to justify the planter modifications required. Yield increases of a similar magnitude can be obtained by applying a small amount of fertilizer with the seed.

The coulter-strip fertilizer application system did not result in significant differences in early shoot growth or nutrient concentration, compared to the side-band using the same planter for both placements. Similarly, there was no difference in grain yield. The location and distribution of P determined in 1990 did indicate that the fertilizer was mixed only with the upper 2-3 cm of soil.

The cross-slot planter resulted in yields comparable to the strip-band fertilizer application system developed at Guelph. Set up of the cross-slot planter could have been improved. Increasing the weight on the planting units may be necessary to achieve proper penetration under some conditions.

Comments:

The title of this report is misleading. The report result focuses on the fertilizer placement in a no-till system. Data collected on P values indicates that current soil test recommendations are adequate. Fertilizer placed in a multistrip-band is marginally superior to the single side-band, however, the difference is not sufficient to justify the modifications required.

Associated SWEEP/LSP Research:

  • SWEEP Report #25 - The Development and Testing of a Dry Fertilizer Placement Machine

  • SWEEP Report #35 - Nutrient Distribution and Stratification Resulting from Conservation Farming

  • SWEEP Report #42 - Report on Development and Operation of the Cross-Slot Planter

Future Research: ( ) indicates reviewers suggestion for priority, A - high, C - low.

(C) The potential of the cross-slot system requires further refinement, in fine-tuning both the fertilizer and seed placement.

 

 

 

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Created: 05-28-1996
Last Revised: Thursday, May 19, 2011 03:22:47 PM