Dr. Jeremy Ross, extension agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture (UADA), engages on two national projects that focus on refining yield-boosting soybean production methods. One project examines how sulfur deficiency affects crops and qualifies proper treatments to address the issue. The second analyzes the impact of foliar fertilizer on these crops.
The first project discovered that sulfur deficiency does exist in Arkansas soybean fields in areas where the soil is sandy. Project findings conclude deficiency is occurring due to efforts aimed at cleaning up the atmosphere, which Ross says is a positive thing.
Fortunately, this isn’t a widespread problem and in fact is very minimal and easy to counteract with the application of ammonium nitrate. The plant itself is uniquely adapted to securing the nutrients it needs to survive.
“Soybeans are such a good scavenger of nutrients in the soil,” Ross said, “and they have pretty deep roots so they can scavenge the sulfur in the soil that other plants aren’t able to reach.”
Sulfur deficiency can manifest as a yellowing of the tips of affected plants, causing them to wither. Ross explains the best way to confirm a deficiency is to have the plant tissue tested.
The second project, focusing on foliar fertilizer, investigates whether or not foliar products are helpful in correcting other deficiencies that may be present in soybean fields. Ross says that using such products is only a quick fix and not a long-term solution. A more systemic approach to correcting deficiencies, he argues, will have a more positive impact on yields over the long-term.
“Applying a foliar fertilizer is a quick fix and you’re not really fixing the main problem,” said Ross. “If you’re seeing deficiencies you really need to take a few more steps to correct that deficiency by looking at dry products early in the season.”
Deficiencies can have a significant impact on crops but there are solutions out there to counteract most problems that producers may encounter. If you suspect a deficiency in your field,contact your local county extension agent for more information on testing and ways to make up for deficiencies.
Watch the full Field to Film: Featured Research video series here to learn more about checkoff funded research projects. Find the podcast version of this series for on-the-go listening here.