If nitrogen is the instant gratification nutrient, phosphorus (P) is the golden nest egg of retirement. Unlike a pension, it won’t take 35 years to see a benefit to using P fertilizer, but it does require constant investment to keep the soil bank account full.
The beauty of P fertilizer is that it won’t be lost. What you add in the soil now may not be used in 2013, but it’ll be used in 2014, ’15, ’16 and more. Having adequate and then some levels of P (within reason, of course) in the soil means that when favourable growing conditions arise, the crop will have all the phosphorus it needs to reach max yield. Skimp on the phosphorus at seeding because the crop seems to need so little or you’ve added an efficiency enhancer and you could be hamstringing yield in both the short and medium term.
In this video, Tom Jensen, Northern Great Plains regional director for the International Plant Nutrition Institute based at Saskatoon, discusses why it’s absolutely necessary to think long-term with phosphorus management, and, perhaps most importantly, why phosphorus-uptake-enhancing products don’t mean you should cut back P rates. “Rate is more important than efficiency,” he says. “You may gain a little in the short term, but in the long term, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.” (Watch to the 4 minute mark for more Jensen’s thoughts on P availability enhancers).
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