Thanks to Shaun Haney at realagriculture.com for taking the time to conduct and post this interview.
The original post can be found here.
We have been following the use of AVAIL as a way to enhance phosphate fertilizer. Today their was a presentation by Kent Whitting of Simplot at the Red Deer CAAR Crop Forum.
The JR Simplot company is offering this phosphate enhancement product to Canadian producers.
Pre-treated phosphate formulations are available as MAP, 0-45-0 and 16-20-0.
Avail for Granular – concentrate can be applied to MAP at 2 l/MT
Avail SD (not yet registered) can be mixed with liquid fertilizers at 1.89 l/378.43L of finished solution 10-34-0, etc.
They claim it will provide up to doubling of phosphate efficiency from conventional fertilizers.
Kent Whitting of JR Simplot Company did a quick presentation on their NutriSphere N technology…these are some of the ideas.
This is a nitrogen stabilzation product that acts as a urease inhibitor as well as reducing nitrification (in two areas).
It is a clear polymer coating applies to a nitrogen granular surface. It contains a blue dye that allows you to monitor the coating and results in a urea coated product that looks very similar to ESN.
There is a formulation that is compatible for liquids…but this is not registered yet in Canada.
My take…we are going to see more of the technologies coming out. We have been using ESN now for a couple of years…we like what we see.
This technology will reduce nitrous oxide emmisions and eventually could play a role in carbon credit generation.
I captured these notes on the fertilizer industry…thought you might find this interesting.
Fertilizer Economics – Presentation by Ben Gavica – JR Simplot Company (Looking mostly at phosphate) at the CAAR Crop Forum in Red Deer
They feel that seeded acreage in the US will be down due to slow corn harvest in the US. This decline in acreage will be offset by higher predicted fertilizer use next year which should keep yields high.
The Fertilizer Industry is doing through a bit of a “hangover” since the “party” (ie highest prices) ended in December 2008. They did make some record profits, which allowed the industry to re-invest in some infrastructure.
There was push-back from the grower and there was a lot of emotion attached to fertilizer pricing. There was plenty of resentment towards crop inputs.
Today phosphate is roughly the same as Jan 2006. So what is going to happen now? The industry is also been affected by the world financial crisis. IFA estimates P demand worldwide was down 9.4% while they estimate reduction in NA was over 20%.
Going forward we should see moderate consumption recovery with the exception of India which grew significantly due to government subsidization of fertilizer purchases.
64% of worldwide crop input demand is coming from China, India, USA and Brazil, with the real growth in P2O5 consumption being China followed by India.
NA market is “destocked” at manufacturer level, the pipeline is pretty empty and farmer’s field P levels have declined due to a mining mentality by the growers over the last couple years. The manufacturers readjusted the inventory levels pretty quick after the “hangover” set in. So they turned the production down.
With the pipeline at low levels and farmers continuing to have negative emotions towards fertilizer they predict some additional demand.
In the US corn belt there has been a significant decline in P levels in soils…this has been due to 2 years of cut backs….there is going to have to be some soil replenishment.
Simplot predicts a near-full P2O5 recovery for 2010…and are ramping up production.
Key drivers….what will happen with the ethanol? The US is still moving forward AND there is a nutrient requirement.
2009 yield was very high in US and France….there will be nutrient depletion…question is – how long will farmer’s resist purchases?
The indication is YES, that the growers will come back to the markets.
BUT there are some outstanding issues…economic crisis…access to credit…freight rates (less competition)
Africa is 63% of the long term P2O5 reserves going forward.
By 2011 the Ma’aden project in Saudi Arabia could supply up to 15% of the world demand…and they are well positioned…and they have money for development. They could overproduce and push supply – increasing price volatility.
Morocco (OCP) will continue to expand production to 2014 (MAP / DAP / TSP)
China is linked to a huge rock supply. Their goal is self sufficiency so they have instituted export tariffs. They are going to expand significantly to 2014, but what will happen after this? They will concentrate on MAP / DAP.
Supply / Demand elasticity is unknown based on the unpredictability more so based on the supply side in the mid-term. In the short term it will be dependent upon what the farmers will do…how far will they deplete soils?
DAP production costs range from $US 210/ST Integrated Producer to +$310 for non-integrated producers…but these costs are likely to increase over time.
EXCEPT for China and Africa the quality of phosphate rock is diminishing – this will drive up production costs for most producers in the long term.
Lastly…how will technology impact what we use and how much we need.
I am reading about the “Mexican Standoff” between the ag community and the fertilizer producers…and while I do not pretend to understand the economics behind fertilizer production, I do understand what fertilizer can do for a crop and what a lack or imbalance can do for a crop.
My concern is this…if we adopt a “lemming” mentality and just cut back on potash (for example)…we may be joining a sinking ship.
Fact is, every farm is different and every field is different.
If one is going to make a decision to ride on residual nutrients, you better consider that decision carefully and from a point of science.
Fact is, some fields can get by without extra potassium (especially in a drought year), but K is the MOST important nutrient for water retention and affects Water Use Efficiency.
Blanket statements like, “Farmers can get by without potash fertilizer”…are DANGEROUS.
Is hail insurance a cost or an investment?
Depends on how you look at it. If it hails, “It was a wise investment.” If it doesn’t hail, “It sure cost a lot of money!” You see, the difference is in how you view the insurance based on what you want it to do for your farm. The argument could be made for either scenario or that the hail insurance is both a cost and an investment.
The thing about hail insurance is, after the crop is in the bin, the only residual value you have from your “investment” is that your premiums may slightly decline next year.
As farm professionals, our goal should be use good management to reduce the yield fluctuations between good and bad years while at the same time increasing overall crop incomes over time. Proper crop nutrient planning is essential for this to occur.
This leads to the question, “Is fertilizer a cost or an investment?”
In most conversations fertilizer will tend to be referred to as a “cost”. In my former life as a fertilizer dealer, I never had a grower ask me to “help him design an investment strategy based on fertilizer inputs.”
Investment strategy discussions are saved for the RSP account manager but certainly not for the fertilizer agronomist.
This is why the relationship between the grower and the fertilizer “salesman” tends to be more on the antagonistic side. The sales person feels he is there to “tell and sell.” The farmer feels he is being “sold” something he knows he needs but doesn’t want to buy – - just like hail insurance.
If the salesman says, “You really should be applying 3 lbs. of copper for that barley crop,” the grower is thinking this guy must be getting extra commission for selling copper and says “no way, do you know how much that copper costs?!”
Often this relationship does not work because the two individuals are on opposite sides of the desk. The fertilizer salesman should try to “sell” or “tell,” but should also“ask” the grower what his goals are for the crop and then define a strategy for achieving these goals. The agronomist and grower should be on the same side of the desk.
The reason this does not happen is because often the salesperson has not asked the farmer, “What is your fertilizer philosophy?” To which the grower might scratch his head and say, “fertilizer philosophy…what do you mean by that?” This could be a big part of the problem. Some time needs to be spent thinking about your fertilizer philosophy so you can make better decisions about how to implement a nutrient strategy for your farm.
Believe it or not, we all have a fertilizer philosophy. It will fall into one of four categories:
Feed the crop.
Feed the soil.
Feed the crop and slightly build the soil over time.
Don’t feed the crop, the soil or the fertilizer dealer & let the grandkids worry about it!
You may laugh, but even if you have never thought about it, you have to fall into one of these four categories.
The philosophy you choose will be dependent largely on where you are in your farming career and what your land tenure situation is.
If you own the land you should not only be concerned with growing a crop, you should also be concerned about the health of the soil. Land ownership or long-term lease arrangements lend themselves nicely towards long-term nutrient strategies.
For example, if copper is needed, you may decide on a program to build the soil levels all at once by broadcasting 6-10 lbs./ac of granular copper (philosophy #2). While expensive, this is a valid strategy that will correct the deficiency in one year even though it took 50 years to deplete the copper levels in the soil.
Researcher have demonstrated that a “one-shot” application of copper at 6-10 lbs./ac will satisfy the copper demand in the field for 5 or more years. In a situation where copper is extremely deficient, the “investment” pays for itself in 1-2 years.
Philosophy #3 dictates that you may decide on a long-term program where you add copper at the rate of 1.5 lbs./ac/year for 3 to 5 years. This would build the soil levels over time while still providing nutrition for the crops being grown annually.
In either case the net result would be restoration of the copper level to a point where it would no longer be a limiting factor.
The “feed the crop” philosophy (#1) is based on an understanding of nutrient removal levels by the crop given the targeted yield and in consideration of the “soil chemistry” in the field.
Growers who have short-term leases are often interested in just “growing the crop”. Little attention is given to a long-term strategy, as you are unlikely to make an investment in a soil in which you do not have a vested interest. Some landlords think that by keeping their renters on a short chain they have better “control” over their land when the reality is that renters with short term leases tend to “mine” the soil by being totally focused on the crop and not the soil.
A “feed the crop” philosophy also makes sense where you are fighting the soil for nutrient availability. For example high organic soils tend to tie up copper making a foliar strategy a good one to follow. In high pH situations, soil applied manganese is difficult to keep available for the crop and here too, a foliar strategy can make plenty of sense.
And finally, there may be instances where the choice is to simply do nothing about feeding the crop or the soil. This is where philosophy #4 comes into play.
No matter where you are farming or what you are growing, you need to spend time thinking about what type of fertilizer philosophy your intend on following for your land base. Looking at fertilizer from such a standpoint will help guide you in your decision and management processes.
Over the past 20+ years I have had the opportunity to talk to thousands of farmers across Western Canada and the northern States. One theme is consistent: there is just not enough time to get everything done.
Time is our most precious resource. We cannot make any more of it so we need to get the most of what we are given. (Kinda sounds like rain, don’t it?)
I believe one way to make the best use of time (and rain) on your farm is to have an Agri-Coach implement a Strategic Crop Plan (SCP). This plan for next year’s crop should begin as soon as the combine leaves the field.
Next year’s crop decisions are based on information. One of the cornerstone pieces of information needed is a good soil test.
The conventional thinking has been that we should not perform a soil test until sometime just before freeze-up or when the soils are cool (<50° F or <10° C).
I would suggest something contrary to this philosophy. There are many (and I am one of them) who now believe the advantages to early soil testing far outweigh any negatives.
We are suggesting that soil sampling should begin first thing after harvesting the field. This means that as you pull the combines off the field, you summon the soil testing brigade to begin the work for the next crop.
The advantages to early soil testing are significant.
Firstly, the person doing the sampling is able to truly get a representative sample of the field. Since there is no tillage, you are able to see areas of good growth and are able to avoid areas of poor growth such as saline areas.
Secondly, soil that is undisturbed allows the sampler to take a very accurate core. Tillage fluffs the soil and makes sampling to accurate core depths difficult.
Finally, turnaround time is an issue in the spring. Even with only 2 days in the lab plus transportation time, spring sampling is logistically difficult. However, if a farmer has his Agri-Caoch begin the sampling process when the combines leave the field, he has plenty of time available and the information is sitting on his table when he is ready to begin planning next years crop.
The main reason for not soil testing early has been a concern about the accuracy of the nitrogen test. However, in tests conducted over three years by North Dakota State University and Researchers in Manitoba and North Dakota, there was less than a 10 pound nitrogen fluctuation from September 15th to November 1st.
If soil tests are taken prior to September 15th, your agronomist should reduce your nitrogen requirements by about ? lb. of N per acre per day for samples taken before this date.
The reality is that most numbers do not fluctuate greatly through the fall. There is little change in phosphate, potash, zinc, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, calcium, cation exchange capacity, base saturation, organic matter or pH from September to November.
In many meetings I have asked, “how many growers apply nitrogen in the fall?” Many put up their hands.
Then I ask how many of them wait for a soil test before they apply nitrogen in the fall. Not many are left with their hands up.
THIS IS THE POINT! Most of us are applying nitrogen blindly anyway, so why not a least have some guideline that comes from an early soil sample. I have been involved in situations where the soil samples were taken October and before the results came back, the grower had applied 70 lbs. of N. When the numbers from the lab came in, turned out 55 lbs. of N would have been plenty.
At Agri-Trend, we strongly encourage growers to get their testing done in the fall.
We also encourage them to get a complete analysis. N, P, K, S alone do not provide a complete picture. Information such as pH, organic matter, cation exchange capacity, base saturation, along with the levels of the other secondary and micronutrients are important if an agronomist is to build a truly complete nutrition plan for your farm.
We also recommend GPS’ed referenced sample points and our standard policy is at least two depths (0-6″ and 6-12″) with many Agri-Coaches also performing a 12-24″ depth for the mobile nutrients.
Once we get the information back we begin to set expectations and goals for next year’s crop with the first phase of the Plan being The 10 Step Soil Interpretation Process™.
So, as Larry the Cable guy would say , Get’er Done!