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Fertilizer Management Key As Some Farmers Face Supply Issues

There's been talk that fertilizer is in short supply in some areas of the province. The issue was brought up last week during Keystone Agricultural Producers' (KAP) Fall Advisory Council Meeting.

John Heard with Manitoba Agriculture says getting a soil test done is the best way to determine fertilizer needs heading into next year.

"I know that a lot of people are soil testing, because I know those people that are in the business, and there's been a lot of demand for that service. One reason that it's really pertinent to do it this year, is that in areas where we've had drought affected, lower yields, there seems to be a considerable amount of nitrogen that's still there and available and should still be accessible for next year's use. That's certainly part of the inventory, we need to take into account when we're looking for fertilizer, or designing our fertility program for next year."

Heard says it's important for farmers to communicate fertilizer requirements with their local retailer.

"When you have your soil test and an idea on what crop and yield potential you're planting for, communicate those needs. The local retailer is going to be pretty important to source those nutrients that you need and provide access...The ability to take possession, with on-farm storage, [there's] an increasing amount of on-farm storage for fertilizer these days. That may provide some flexibility if we have some winter filling."

He notes it's important for farmers to plan to apply nutrients as efficiently as possible.

"We go back to the basics and the principals, which are generally, in-the-soil banded fertility is the most efficient. In soil placed nitrogen and bands for phosphorus, it's with or close to the seed is the most efficient manner for that. We also have to remember to consider our fertility credits. Do we have previous legumes, like those pea crops that are out there? Sometimes we offer the nitrogen credit, other times not. [In] today's climate, I think we should be tapping on some of the nitrogen credit there, but we tend not to for soybeans because soybeans remove most of their nitrogen. For those blessed with manure, now's the time to make the most of those manure nutrients also."

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