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Banding Phosphorus Fertilizer Increases Production

Posted Aug. 31, 2002

Banding phosphorus (P) fertilizer with small grain seed at planting is an efficient and easy way to supply the nutrient. Total P application rates can be decreased by one-third when compared to broadcast applications due to the concentration of nutrients in a smaller area. Banding P can also increase grain and forage yields on acidic soils (pH <5.5). Liquid and granular phosphorus sources are both equally effective.

One consequence of acidic soils is increased soluble aluminum in the soil solution that can cause decreased uptake of other nutrients, root pruning and toxicity to plants. In general, soluble aluminum and other elements like manganese and iron react quickly with P fertilizer to produce complexes that precipitate from solution, lowering the concentration and the potential toxicity of these metals.

By banding P fertilizer with the seed, it is believed that the concentration of toxic aluminum ions in soil solution near the seed can be temporarily reduced, thereby creating a zone where germination and emergence of the wheat plant is favored. Research at Oklahoma State University shows that when compared to no P application, production of winter wheat forage was doubled when P was banded with the seed at rates of 60 lbs. of P2O5 per acre (a little more than 15 gallons of 10-34-0 or 130 lb/ac of 18-46-0) on soils with a pH less than 5.0 (Boman et al., 1992).

Setting up a drill to apply liquid N-P fertilizer (10-34-0) is a pretty easy chore. Basic needs are a tank on the tongue of the drill or on the tractor, a pump, nozzle bodies, gauges, restrictors to control the rate, and delivery tubes to place the fertilizer near the openers with the seed.

Included are three photos of one set-up used on a drill at the Noble Research Institute Pasture Demonstration Farm.

Boman, R.K., R.L. Westerman, G.V. Johnson, M.E. Jojola. 1992. "Phosphorus fertilization effects on winter wheat production in acid soils." p. 195-200. In J.L. Havlin (ed.) Proc. Great Plains Soil Fert. Conf. Denver, CO. Vol. 4.