Topics: Grower Profile
Name: Tom Beckman - Kansas Farmer
Location: Selden, Kan.
Years farming: 20
Number of Acres: 2,500
Crops: Corn, milo, wheat and soybeans
After 15 years of teaching and coaching high school students, only to return to the farm, Tom Beckman has learned he prefers to spend his days in the field rather than in a classroom. He's also grown to appreciate the advancements that have occurred in crop production and nutrient management since his farm upbringing.
"I think as a teacher it's easier for me to accept new ideas than someone who's been doing the same thing year in and year out for so long," Beckman says. "Tried and true is good, but just because you've always done something doesn't mean there's not a better way to do it."
The right mix for the right crop
Beckman generally does much of his own fertilization, but relies on the local co-op to apply dry treatments. Below he shares his standard fertilization practices for specific crops.
• August – early September: 60 pounds of dry nitrogen with NutriSphere-N®
• October (first week): five gallons of 10-34-0 with zinc and AVAIL® in-furrow
• Spring: top-dress 20 pounds of 32-0-0 with herbicide and NutriSphere-N
• Plant in dry land cornstalks
• January – February (after snow and ice melts): 120 pounds of dry nitrogen with NutriSphere-N
• Mid-May – early June: when planting, 10-34-0 with zinc and AVAIL
• Twenty pounds of phosphorus starter with AVAIL, 2-inches deep
• Strip-till anhydrous 12-inches deep
• Forty pounds of 10-34-0 with AVAIL, 10-inches deep
Wet weather change-up
Beckman and other Midwestern farmers, experienced an extremely wet fall, followed by a harsh 2009-2010 winter weather season. Cold temperatures, ice, rain and snow continue to plague the region and, as a result, Beckman decided to go with dry fertilizer on his irrigated land.
"It rained and rained and rained this year," he says, "and already five heavy snow storms before January 1. With this much moisture in the ground I can't afford to knife anhydrous; it wouldn't stay in the ground long enough to benefit the crop. The safest route is to apply dry nitrogen with NutriSphere-N. It may be more costly in spring, but you won't be sorry in the fall."
Get a head start
Beckman advocates fall fertilization whenever possible.
"Fall application allows much more time to accomplish everything you need to in the spring," he says. "If you get behind in the spring you run into heavy rain; fall fertilization makes life easier."
Teacher says test
Beckman relies on soil testing to help determine the correct and most-optimal nutrient mix. Unfortunately, weather conditions prevented him from testing this year.
"Because of the extreme rainfall, I didn't have the crop harvested in a timely manner and now I can't conduct soil sampling because the ground is frozen," Beckman says.
Instead, he will rely on forecasts. Based on soil devoid, he'll determine the amount of fertilizer required to reach a yield goal of 240 bushels of irrigated corn per acre, for example, and apply appropriately. Soil testing would allow him to avoid such expenses and apply more strategically, he says.
Sold on SFP
Beckman learned about Leawood, Kan.-based SFP, manufacturer of AVAIL Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer and NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager, by watching RFD-TV.
"Last year we applied nitrogen test strips with and without NutriSphere-N on our wheat," Beckman says. "At harvest, we watched the yield monitor increase six bushels per acre on strips where NutriSphere-N was applied. I was sold."
Click here to learn what other growers have experienced with AVAIL and NutriSphere-N.
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