Brian Lang, Field Agronomist, Northeast Area
In the fall of 2005 a farmer near Lamont Iowa approached ISU Extension with concerns about corn production on low organic matter sandy soils. His yields on the sandy soils were considered good, averaging 150 bushel per acre. However, in his opinion the limits on yield potential didnt appear to be just do to lack of soil moisture or nitrogen availability as is so often the reasons given with production on sandy soils.
In 2005, ISU Extension was conducting research on alfalfa with sulfur fertilizer, finding yield increases in alfalfa grown on low organic matter soils. With the farmers cooperation, it was a natural transition to evaluate sulfur fertilization in corn production on sandy soils. The farmer set aside some land in 2006 and 2007 for ISU Extension to conduct replicated fertilizer trials on Sparta fine loamy sand soil at three different locations on the farm This soil type represented the majority of the farmers soils with low organic matter.
The research found that the addition of sulfur fertilizer to corn production on this low organic matter soil resulted in a 26% yield increase in 2006 and a 27% yield increase in 2007. The research was consistent and repeatable. The average yield increase minus the sulfur fertilizer cost resulted in a net profit of over $90 per acre. Sulfur fertilizer, whether as commercial fertilizer or livestock manure, will now be part of the farmers regular corn management practices on sandy soils.
100 Corn and Soybean Production
Page last updated:
October 1, 2007
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