How to Beat the Nutrient Shortage
How to Beat the Nutrient Shortage
The fertilizer market is disrupted, and prices are skyrocketing. One way to mitigate the effects is to unlock the nutrients already in your soil.
Farmers have been worried about rising input costs for months. It was the number-one concern identified by farmers in a February survey published in the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. Input costs have been rising for a range of reasons, from a drop in fertilizer exports from China since the beginning of the pandemic to a shortage of shipping containers that was increasing freight costs and disrupting the supply chain. Then, on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. The conflict between Russia — the world’s top exporter of nitrogen fertilizers, the second and third-highest supplier of potassium and phosphorus fertilizers, respectively1 — and Ukraine, also a leading exporter of these materials, is driving prices even higher. Furthermore, both countries are major exporters of commodities such as wheat, corn, rapeseed, and sunflower products. With global food commodity shortages, North American growers may earn more from these crops. However, North American yields could be lower this year as growers consider trimming their fertilizer inputs as they wrestle with the high costs of production.
“In many cases prices are up more than three times from what they were last year,” says Rob Ford, Midwest Region Sales Manager at Agro-K. It is hard to predict when these increases will stop. The disruption in the supply chain is also unpredictable. I know some operations where they just couldn’t get the fertilizer in time to put it on.”
Use the Nutrient Supply You Already Have
There is no easy answer. One thing growers can do, however, is make the most of the nutrients they already have in the soil. Often, these nutrients are “locked up” due to a lack of the microbial activity necessary to release them into plant-available forms. Even if soil tests show low levels of nutrients there is still likely a supply.
“Soil tests estimate potentially available nutrients but do not reflect total soil nutrition. Nutrient reserves can be present in the soil that are so tightly bound they are not expressed in the soil test and are not available to the crop.” says Rick de Jong, International Business Development Manager for Agro-K.
The metabolic activity of aerobic bacteria and beneficial fungi convert these hidden nutrients into forms that plants can use. NutriMax provides minerals and nutrients that aerobic bacteria and fungi, such as mycorrhizae, need. Field trials show NutriMax increases soil microbial activity by as much as 30%. These soil organisms break down unavailable macro and micronutrients making them more plant available. It isn’t a fertilizer, and it doesn’t contain live microorganisms. NutriMax is a “food” for the organisms that unlock the hidden nutrients in the soil.
“Soils with greater aerobic microbial populations grow plants with larger root masses. NutriMax-treated soils also display other benefits, such as improved structure and water-holding capacity,” Ford says.
Research shows NutriMax significantly increases nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, saving input costs for growers. Ford says, “Replicated trials in corn over three years resulted in a 12-13 bu./acre increase in yield.”
“NutriMax should be applied when soils begin to warm in the spring. Perennial crops can benefit from additional NutriMax applications through the season and into the fall, ensuring the nutrients present are plant available. Ford emphasizes that adequate soil moisture is necessary for microbe activity so, if conditions are dry, application should be followed by supplemental irrigation. NutriMax can be applied via most irrigation systems or band sprayed at the base of rows and watered in as a soil drench.