Fertilizing Farm Fields in the Fall

Posted: November 16, 2018

After harvest, farmers apply fall fertilizer to improve soil health for next year’s crop.

Before farmers can apply fertilizer they must determine what nutrients are needed. Soil samples are taken to measure phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and pH levels. Balanced soil pH is necessary for obtaining the most from soil fertility.

Today, farmers use variable rate technology to apply nutrients only where needed and at variable rates throughout a field.

Lime Application

As you drive by a farm field you may see a pile of lime. Fall is a good time to apply lime to balance soil pH. Lime, a natural substance, neutralizes soil acidity and adds calcium, which is a micronutrient essential to plant growth.


If you’ve driven by farm fields you may have seen a pile of lime like this one. Lime is delivered to a farm field and then spread on the field. Lime neutralizes soil acidity and adds calcium, which is a micronutrient essential to plant growth.

 

By applying lime in the fall it has time to break down before the next growing season. Farmers or fertilizer companies apply lime with a tractor and dry box spreader, usually called a floater because its large tires “float” across the fields to reduce compaction.


Farmers or fertilizer companies apply lime with a tractor equipped with a dry box fertilizer spreader, usually called a floater. Floaters spread lime using variable rate technology to apply nutrients only where needed and at various rates throughout a field. This TerraGator floater and other rigs shown are being operated by ConservFS employees.

 

Phosphorus and Potassium Application

Fall is typically the time for phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) applications because of dry soils, available fertilizers and the need for application before fall tillage.

Farmers use soil test recommendations to figure adequate rates of P and K in soils that are below critical levels of these nutrients. P and K are usually used in a dry form and spread on fields with floaters.

Nitrogen Application

Anhydrous ammonia is a good source for fall-applied nitrogen (N). N sources containing urea and/or nitrates have greater potential to be lost via leaching, volatilization or runoff. Ammonium-N is relatively stable as it attaches to soil particles.

Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is contained in white round tanks. You may see these white tanks being pulled by a tractor in farm fields. The tractor pulls an anhydrous toolbar and the white tanks across the field injecting anhydrous ammonia into the soil.


Anhydrous ammonia (NH3) is a good source for fall-applied nitrogen. Anhydrous ammonia is contained in white round tanks. You may see these white tanks being pulled by a tractor in farm fields. The tractor pulls an anhydrous toolbar and the white tanks across the field injecting anhydrous ammonia into the soil.

 

It’s important to have adequate levels of nitrogen in the soil for crop growth and development. Farmers may apply N in the fall or spring, or split applications, or do multiple applications to provide more N when the plant needs it.

The key with applying fall fertilizer is making sure that it is applied at the right rate, in the right form and at the right time.

Source: www.fssystem.com


Share: