Topics: Grower Profile
Name: Greg Willis - Washington Farmer
Location: Montesano, Wash.
Years farming: 25
Number of Acres: 1,200
Crops: Corn, grass, peas, wheat
With clay soils and the ever-changing weather patterns of coastal Washington, Greg Willis needed help managing soil nutrients for his crops. He found his solution with NutriSphere-N® Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager and AVAIL® Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer.
Fertilizing prescriptions and application
Willis applies all fertilizer himself, except for the broadcast corn application. Soil testing is an important part of his nutrient management plan; he tests every year, in every field. Below, Willis shares his fertilization protocol:
- Before first cut, spin-spread 250 pounds per acre of 36-4-4-4 mix – with NutriSphere-N
- Repeat for second and third cuts when temperature exceeds 70 F
- Late March to early April, 240 pounds per acre of 40-0-0
- Band (drill) 220 pounds per acre of 9-44-8-2 – with AVAIL
- Starter fertilizer: two and a half gallons per acre of 3-18-18
- Broadcast 400-550 pounds per acre of 26-0-21-4 (rate varies per soil nutrient levels) – with NutriSphere-N
- Band (planter) 220 pounds per acre of 10-48-5 – with AVAIL
"We give the corn some special attention," Willis says. “To avoid leaching, we incorporate nitrogen and potassium fertilizers before spring planting season, but we never cultivate or sidedress due to minimal summer rainfall."
Willis further explains that using NutriSphere-N allows him to better manage broadcasted nitrogen, despite constant weather pattern changes.
If it works, use it.
Willis learned about AVAIL and NutriSphere-N from George Pearce, manager at the local Wilco-Agronomy co-op in Chehalis, Wash.
“George presented research data, and he explained how SFP’s fertilizer additives could help us lower our fertilizer cost while maintaining yields," Willis says.
Fixing P fixation
Coastal Washington’s clay soils have pH levels of 5.0 to 5.5. Soil tests showed increased phosphorus levels with phosphorus fertilizer applications, but it was fixed (i.e. tied up) and unavailable to plants because of clay particles. Adding AVAIL to Willis’ nutrient mix showed a notable difference in his crops’ phosphorus uptake.
“We were able to cut our application rates by 25 percent to 30 percent and still maintain our 25-ton to 30-ton yield on silage corn," Willis says.
Equipment advancement and upkeep
Willis stresses the importance of well-maintained equipment, for both prep and planting. He believes it’s critical to success when dealing with the constant weather changes and short planting windows of coastal Washington.
“You can’t control rain or temperature, but you can control what equipment is used and how well it performs," Willis says. “With only a few critical days to plant, there’s no time for equipment malfunctions or complications."
In addition to equipment upkeep, the Willis family farm is committed to today’s equipment innovations.
“Over the last five years, we’ve adopted the SmartBox® insecticide application system, and upgraded to the eSet® Vacuum Disk for better seed singulation and BullsEye® Seed Tube for better seed placement," Willis says.
WATCH Greg Willis – crop and dairy farmer shares how SFP products benefit his Washington operation!
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