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Starter Fertilizers for Corn on Soils Testing High in Phosphorus in the Northeastern USA

Roth, G.W., Beegle, D.B., Heinbaugh, S.M., Antle, M.E.
Agronomy journal 2006 v.98 no.4 pp. 1121-1127
Zea mays, corn, soil fertility, soil test values, phosphorus, starter fertilizers, NPK fertilizers, grain yield, band placement, ammonium sulfate, plant growth, granules, liquid fertilizers, fertilizer rates, Pennsylvania
Starter fertilizers with a high P analysis are commonly used in the northeastern USA for corn (Zea mays L.) production, despite many soils testing above optimum (>50 mg P kg-1). The objective of this study was to evaluate responses to high P starter fertilizers in a band 5 cm from the row compared to alternatives such as banded higher N or conventional and low-salt in-furrow fertilizers. Two studies were conducted during 2000 through 2003 in Pennsylvania. The first study was a 3-yr on-farm study conducted to evaluate an untreated check, (NH4)2SO4 (AS), and 10-13-8.3 (N-P-K) as starters at 41 locations across Pennsylvania on high P testing soils. Early growth increased by 17% using 10-13-8.3 and 15% using AS compared to the check. Grain yields were 3.3% higher than the check for the AS treatment. Yields from the 10-13-8.3 were not different than the check but averaged 2.0% higher. A second 3-yr study consisted of an untreated check, five banded granular starter fertilizer blends (10-13-8.3, 21-0-0-24, 16-3.5-6.7-16, 16-3.5-6.7, and 16-0-6.7-16) applied at 202 kg ha-1, and three liquid in-furrow treatments applied at 35 kg ha-1 (7-9.1-5.8, 7-7.4-2.5 and 7-7.8-7.5). Early growth and grain yield were significantly increased in 1 of 3 yr with some higher N starters. Eliminating starters, using higher N or in-furrow starters on high P soils all appear to be possible management alternatives to high P starters.