Fertilizer Management Pays Off Big: P Fertilizer Enhancer Delivers Yield & Bottom-line Value
by Terry Tindall, Ph.D., J. R. Simplot Company
With the U.S. dollar falling precipitously during the fourth quarter of 2009, grower input costs continue to rise. As such, growers are giving even greater consideration to each input and its bottom-line affect.
One input that continues to be a sound investment is phosphorus fertilizer with AVAIL®, says Terry Tindall, Ph.D., who manages crop research for Boise, Idaho based J.R. Simplot. Recent university research across multiple crops and varying time periods continues to demonstrate both yield and bottom-line advantages to using SFP's AVAIL Phosphorus Fertilizer Enhancer to help ensure crops get the most out of applied phosphorus.
Alfalfa yield increases in California
"In fact, in a 2008 California trial on alfalfa, a grower returned an extra $48.40 per acre as a result of using AVAIL," Tindall says. "That's a benefit-to-cost ratio of six-to-one."
The trial was conducted on seedling-established alfalfa in soil having a pH of 7.1 and phosphate level of 4.5 ppm. Researchers found crops without applied phosphorus produced 4.3 tons per acre. Application of 80 pounds of phosphorus resulted in 4.74 tons per acre. Adding AVAIL to the 80-pound phosphorus application resulted in production of 4.96 tons per acre.
"Growers are realizing significant yield benefits from the application of phosphorus alone and, even more so, phosphorus plus AVAIL," says Larry Sanders, Ph.D., president and CEO of SFP, the Leawood, Kan.-based manufacturer of AVAIL. "In the California-alfalfa study, a yield increase of nearly a half-ton was recorded by adding 80 pounds of phosphorus. With the addition of AVAIL, which allows the crop to access more of the applied phosphorus, the grower realized an additional .22 ton of production. That's a significant bottom-line benefit."
Boost in 2009 winter wheat production
A winter wheat study in Belleville, Kan., showed substantial benefits during the July 2009 harvest. The AVAIL and phosphorus fertilizer study was overseen by Barney Gordon, Ph.D., of Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., in soil with a pH of 6.0 and phosphorus levels of 15 ppm. Wheat acreage treated with 20 pounds of phosphorus yielded 85.4 bushels per acre and crops treated with 40 pounds of phosphorus yielded 88.8 bushels per acre.
"When we added AVAIL to the mix, we saw significant gains," Tindall says. "For acreage treated with 20 and 40 pounds of phosphorus plus AVAIL, we saw yields of 89.6 and 95.5 bushels per acre, respectively. That translates to an AVAIL advantage of $20.70 per acre – or nine-to-one – on the 20-pounds-per-acre treatment and $32.05 – or seven-to-one – on the 40-pounds-per-acre treatment," Tindall adds.
Idaho potatoes show yield increase
In Idaho, a 2008 potato study showed a significant benefit-to-cost ratio for growers using AVAIL with phosphorus applications.
Jeff Stark, Ph.D., of the University of Idaho directed the study on russet burbank potatoes in sandy loam soil having a pH level of 8.3 and a phosphorus level of 21 ppm. In the trial, acreage treated with 160 pounds per acre of phosphorus produced 207 hundredweight (cwt) per acre of potatoes, returning a gross of $1,656 per acre.
Acreage treated with the same amount of phosphorus plus $30 per acre of AVAIL produced 251 cwt per acre of potatoes, returning a gross of $2,008 per acre.
"Using the phosphorus fertilizer enhancer put an additional $352 per acre return in the grower's pocket," Tindall says. "That's a benefit-to-cost ratio of 11-to-one."
The benefit-to-cost ratio is calculated by dividing the income advantage per acre generated by the use of AVAIL by the cost per acre of using AVAIL, Tindall says. Basically, the ratio shows the cost of a phosphorus fertilizer enhancer, like AVAIL, is more than compensated with yield increase.
"It's important to understand using fertilizer inputs correctly as well as wisely incorporating an enhanced efficiency product like AVAIL improves your efficiency and your business," Tindall says. "Your crops make better use of nutrients, yield potential increases and, as a result, you not only offset the cost of your fertilizer inputs but you have the potential for a greater return on economic investment."
About the author
Tindall has been a nutrient management and soil fertility advisor and agronomy research director for more than 30 years. Tindall serves on the International Certified Crop Advisor Program board and the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation board of directors. He also is active in the American Society of Agronomy, among other agronomy organizations. He is an alumnus of Brigham Young University and Oklahoma State University, and resides in Boise, Idaho.
Terry Tindall, Ph.D.
J. R. Simplot Company
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