InfoAg Talk: Understand Nutrient Variability

Kurt Lawton

Growers need to focus on getting the right nutrient source applied at the right time, rate and place, says Steve Phillips, southeast region director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI).

In his talk at the recent InfoAg precision agriculture conference, Phillips outlined the top 10 reasons why we need to understand spatial variability for nutrient management.

10. We need to understand variability to guide technology development. Understand the job to know what tools to use — GPS, GIS, variable rate, etc.

9. More accurate computer-generated modeling needed — to better understand crop scouting and yield, water quality, climate change and more.

8. Cropping system sustainability — such as soil quality on a spatial scale, variable-rate pest management, continued grower competitiveness, etc.

7. Guide nutrient management legislation. If we don’t help put science behind legislation (that is often based on models) then we’ll have policy makers creating laws not backed by science.

6. Maximize productivity — getting the right nutrients in the right locations because blanket applications are not efficient.

5. Maximize profits — using variable-rate applications and such in-season tools like GreenSeeker or Crop Circle that use sensors to prescription feed plants what they need on the go. Technology costs are coming down to help even small to mid-size farms make it pay.

4. Minimize environmental impact — more nutrients in the plant and less in the field.

3. This year is not last year — due to the impact of weather, growers too often get into the habit of applying the same rates every year.

2. Develop nutrient recommendation systems at the appropriate scale — take national/state recommendation down to the field management zone level.

1. Making the right decision with nutrient efficiency and effectiveness to increase productivity. Learn the 4R nutrient stewardship system.

Listen to Phillips’ presentation to learn more:

Precision Pays coverage of the InfoAg 2009 Conference is sponsored by: Ag Leader Technology.

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