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Phosphorus and Potassium Fertilizer Application Strategies in Corn–Soybean Rotations

Boring, Timothy J., Thelen, Kurt D., Board, James E., De Bruin, Jason L., Lee, Chad D., Naeve, Seth L., Ross, William J., Kent, Wade A., Ries, Landon L.
Agronomy 2018 v.8 no.9
Glycine max, Zea mays subsp. mays, corn, crop rotation, fertilizer rates, grain yield, phosphorus, potassium, potassium fertilizers, production technology, seed yield, soil, soil test values, soybeans, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota
To determine if current university fertilizer rate and timing recommendations pose a limitation to high-yield corn (Zea mays subsp. mays) and soybean (Glycine max) production, this study compared annual Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K) fertilizer applications to biennial fertilizer applications, applied at 1× and 2× recommended rates in corn–soybean rotations located in Minnesota (MN), Iowa (IA), Michigan (MI), Arkansas (AR), and Louisiana (LA). At locations with either soil test P or K in the sub-optimal range, corn grain yield was significantly increased with fertilizer application at five of sixteen site years, while soybean seed yield was significantly increased with fertilizer application at one of sixteen site years. At locations with both soil test P and K at optimal or greater levels, corn grain yield was significantly increased at three of thirteen site years and soybean seed yield significantly increased at one of fourteen site years when fertilizer was applied. Site soil test values were generally inversely related to the likelihood of a yield response from fertilizer application, which is consistent with yield response frequencies outlined in state fertilizer recommendations. Soybean yields were similar regardless if fertilizer was applied in the year of crop production or before the preceding corn crop. Based on the results of this work across the US and various yield potentials, it was confirmed that the practice of applying P and K fertilizers at recommended rates biennially prior to first year corn production in a corn–soybean rotation does not appear to be a yield limiting factor in modern, high management production systems.