Verified FBN Member (IA)

To increase microbial activity in peat for corn production, would you...

Have a field that we have at the right fertilizer levels, performed drainage corrections and is at the right pH. Still have difficulty with different hybrids to break the 200bu mark. Would you grow a cover crop, or apply biologicals? Keep in mind, we don’t farm 2,000 so spending capital to put starter on the planter isn’t a a no-brainer in our operation.

North Central Iowa. Other fields are 225-250 bu. We are full conventional till right now.

Verified FBN Member

Peat is so high in organic matter, adding a cover crop will likely not do much good. If the soil isn't saturated, you have outstanding microbial activity and adding a biological product or cover crop for the purpose of increasing microbial activity isn't worth it. Peat doesn't compact so a cover crop such as radish is not needed. Generally for peat, drainage is a problem, and even though the surface is dry, it might be too wet subsurface.

Also, in high organic matter soils, a single app of N isn't going to stay available for the entire season as it gets tied up so quickly. Can you do 50-70% of N preplant and 30-50% as a side-dress? Spreading out the N application may help, as the high OM soil ties up N so quickly.

Lastly, P is easily tied up in high CEC soils so adding more P in-furrow or incorporating it in the root system where it can be quickly taken up will likely pay for itself.

Hope this is helpful.

Verified FBN Member (IA)

Since this post I have taken and received a soil test. The K level was at 110 ppm and the base sat. K is 1.1. If we strip tilled our nutrients next year, we could spend just a little more on K than would have in a broadcast and because of higher concentration of nutrients we could receive a larger benefit.

We currently side dress 120# and broadcast spray of 120# on all of our fields. If we put N on with the planter in 2x2, could we go 80# and have the same effect? Assume we still side dress 120#.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

We have found over many years you need high K levels in peat. You can't build it, so a yearly application is needed. Also 2X2 best for P application.

Verified FBN Member (IA)

Anonymous. This is great info!

So, strip till (banding) is the method of choice for applying K? What P product do you recommend ?

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