Producers always keep a close eye on the nitrogen (N) applied to their crops, but they should be managing their phosphorus (P) just as diligently. Phosphorus not only plays a vital role in having healthier plants and better overall crop growth, but it also critical to achieving top yields. And, proper phosphorus management can be especially elusive when applying manure fertilizer.
Dr. Barney Gordon, professor emeritus at Kansas State University and currently an agronomic consultant in west Tennessee, describes P as being the battery that drives the engine of plant growth and development.
“Phosphorus enhances maturity and stalk strength in grain crops,” Gordon explains. “It is essential for all tillering and rooting, and it also increases the nitrogen fixation capacity of legumes.”
Gordon, who built his scientific and academic career specializing in developing methods for maximizing nutrient efficiency, understands the importance of applying P to crops and how it reacts with the soil.
“Applied phosphorus has a tendency to get locked up with calcium, magnesium, aluminum and iron in the soil, depending on whether the soil pH is above 6.8 or below 5.5,” Gordon says. “The phosphorus that does get locked up in the soil may not revert to a soluble form until well after the crops would need it.”
As a way to protect both P and N from loss and increase the availability of these vital nutrients for plant uptake, producers have found success in incorporating More Than Manure® (MTM®) Nutrient Manager into their manure fertilizer. Annually, much of the P from applied manure gets locked up in the soil. MTM helps protect that P from fixation, so more of the nutrient is available to make it into plants.
SFP® sales representative Jeff Thompson says that the SFP patented polymer technology featured in MTM was created to protect against nutrient loss.
“MTM is designed to protect phosphorus in manure from getting locked-up in the soil, and it is also designed to help stabilize nitrogen, help keep it in the ammonium form longer and guard against leaching, volatilization and denitrification,” Thompson explains. “Our data has shown an average yield increase in corn of 9.5 Bu./A return when manure is treated with MTM, which definitely makes our producers happy.”
Swine producer Jake Rechkemmer who also serves as the agronomy manager at the Dunkerton Co-op in Dunkerton, Iowa, has been using MTM in 2,400 head-swine confinement barns for two years and has seen significant improvements since he began using the product.
“MTM helps solve our problems with phosphorus and nitrogen losses in manure. Our hog manure is high in phosphorus, so we want to protect that value and use it to our advantage when applying the manure as fertilizer on our crops,” Rechkemmer says.
In addition to seeing advantages in the field, Rechkemmer has seen benefits in his manure pits and surrounding areas.
“MTM keeps the nitrogen from volatizing in our building, and because of that, it helps reduce ammonia levels and improves air quality,” Reckhemmer adds. “It also reduces crusts and solids for a more uniform consistency, which improves handling. I think it’s a proven product, and we’re getting the yield benefit, plus protecting the environment for our livestock and employees.
Put simply, Rechkemmer says that MTM helps increase the value of manure as a fertility resource by helping reduce nutrient losses, making handling and application of manure easier and improving air quality – both in swine confinement facilities and for people living close to those facilities and to fields treated with manure. “Producers are able to get more value out of key resource they already have on hand,” he stresses.