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Canola School: Assessing starter phosphorous amount, placement, and type

By: Brittany Warner

August 2, 2022

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When getting ready for the new crop year, understanding the proper application, amount and maybe even the type of phosphorus on the canola crop can have a significant impact on yield, come harvest.

On this episode of the Canola School, Warren Ward, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, goes through some minimums and maximums and different application options for the necessary nutrient. He also covers some current trials that are taking place looking at the difference between liquid and granular phosphorus.

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Firstly, knowing the soil make-up is going to be key when determining how much P should be applied and even where it should be applied. In general, Ward says 25 pounds per acre is typically the standard, but also the maximum, that one would want to apply in the seed row to avoid any seedling damage. Seed-row toxicity shows up later by way of poor emergence and lower plant counts later in the growing season. That being said, Ward shares how he has seen damage done with just 15 pounds per acre, so really knowing how saturated or depleted the soil is of P, will help you determine what that rate should be in the seed row.

Twenty-five pounds, as stated, is the maximum safe amount that farmers can apply in the seed row, but in order to have a successful growing season, producers are likely going to have to apply much more than that.

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“If we know we want to apply more, but we’ve already maxed out what we can safely apply in the seed row, there are a couple other options,” explains Ward. “If you’ve got a side band, for instance, or a mid-row band, you can include that bonus or extra phosphorus in those in those side or mid-row bands, then in the soil where it’s needed, and most efficient for the plants to access it.” (Write up continues below)

Watch the full episode below and click here for the full library of RealAgriculture’s Canola School

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Ward warns about skimping on phosphorus applications as soil that’s depleted in phos can make for a lengthy, and costly, road to recovery.

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“It’s very costly. We’re looking at a range of 15 to 30 pounds a  P-205 to to raise the soil test one part per million for phosphate, so it’s not something that happens overnight and it really is a long term strategy,” explains Ward.

Looking ahead, depending on the outcome of a current trial, producers may look at switching to liquid from granular phosphorus. Ward shares that other countries have found success with making the switch and therefore researchers are currently conducting their own trial to see if similar benefits could be experienced for Canadian farmers on the prairies.

“Other parts of the world, they’ve seen some advantages, in some cases, to using liquid starter fertilizers over the granular. So the thought with this project was to let’s see if that happens in in western Canadian conditions, as well. Some of the past research that’s been done more locally, tends to show that there there isn’t. But let’s explore the options and see what what is available there,” says Ward.