High-Yield Farmers Are Making Foliar Nutrition Pay

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Higher grain prices make a farmer’s choice to feed for yield with foliar nutrients easier, but only if suppliers don’t soak up the extra income with higher costs.

“Economics is the lead factor if we are going to do something,” says Ben Bowsher, who grows corn and soybeans near Westfield, Ohio. “You know, if we spend a dollar today is it going to make us two dollars tomorrow?” Bowsher says lower prices from a new direct-to-farm supplier, Meristem Crop Performance, have made it possible for him to push harder for yields by adding foliar nutrients knowing it won’t take but a bushel or two more to pay for it.

Research published by seed supplier Beck’s Hybrids shows positive results in corn from foliar feeding on different hybrids anywhere from 2 to 9 bushel per acre. With current corn prices above $6, this makes feeding for additional bushels a no-brainer, provided you’ve met the basic fertility needs of the crop in the field earlier.

“Last year we applied HOMESTRETCH ULTRA, it’s a micronutrient pack, and we’ve got somebody to work with direct,” Bowsher explains. “We don’t have to go through a chain to get to the top. It lowers the cost and makes the product more economical for us to apply and use.”

“We’ve held our prices to make it easier for farmers to win big with foliar applications,” says Mitch Eviston, founder and CEO of Meristem Crop Performance. “You can still get high-quality HOMESTRETCH for less than $6 per acre.” Eviston says they also put more products in Meristem’s foliar line to meet the needs of high-yield growers and their agronomists. “We’ve now added a foliar nutrition product with plant stress mitigation called HARVESTSHIELD that’s getting great results.” He says HARVESTSHIELD will fuel even more return on investment (ROI) to a foliar application trip across any field of corn or soybeans.

Larry Fiene, field agronomist and founder of Planet Earth Agronomy, Middleton, Wisc., says HARVESTSHIELD helps solve a plant-stress problem that comes with high-yield agriculture.

“Higher plant populations and more intensive practices will create more stress for the plant,” says Fiene. “The special amino acids and other components of HARVESTSHIELD help the plant produce more of its own defensive compounds to cope with the adversity it’s facing, whether it’s heat, drought, nutrient deficiency or pesticide stress.”

Fiene says his corn “stress-plot” data is showing yield advantages of 7 to 10 bushel per acre at the low end. “In high-yield situations we’ve seen combine yield monitors show an advantage of 10 to 20 bushel per acre.”

Eviston says growers are seeing results with all of Meristem’s foliar products because of their unique, proprietary formulation. “These molecules are formulated for better nutrient uptake and movement in the plant,” Eviston explains. “They are designed to mix well and not get bound up with other chemistry. The micronutrients, like zinc, actually help reduce crop stress.”

He says more information is available at MeristemAg.com.