We can’t control how much rain we get. But what we can control is how effectively we utilize the rain we do get! This is a key insight in crop production that needs to be focused on. If a grower is producing 8 bushels per inch of available moisture vs. 6 bushels per inch of available moisture then in a year with 5 inches of rain and 2 inches available in the soil profile means that the grower producing 8 bushels per inch of moisture will yield 14 bu/ac more! This is significant. At Yara, we strongly encourage everyone focus on this efficiency indicator to better understand how to improve crop production practices.
So how can you increase your water use efficiency? One way is nutrition. Having nutrients available to the crop when it needs, in quantities it needs is instrumental to maximizing water use efficiency. Take zinc, for example. Zinc is crucial for early season root growth and ensuring there is adequate Zn can enhance the health and size of the root system which in turn means more roots/root hair to take up water and drive crop growth.
Taking the time to understand the amount of crop produced per inch of moisture sets the stage for valuable discussion with your customer base now and into the future.
When people talk about deficiency it usually refers to visual symptoms that we can clearly see. When this is the case, things have been going wrong in the physiology of the plant for some time. Our goal should be to be proactive when it comes to nutrition, not reactive.
We can see in the below chart that yield loss starts before visual symptoms. But the other thing we need to consider is what does a sub-clinical latent deficiency look like? What it looks like is actually increased exposure to other yield reducing factors such as increased susceptibility to insects like flea beetles, increased risk of frost damage and even crop lodging. All these negative implications can be a concern from having just short of the proper nutrients available to the crop, whether it be phosphorus, potassium or zinc or boron.
AgTech is a hot topic in all areas of agriculture. While the potential is huge, there remains shortcomings that haven’t allowed farmers of industry to extract the value promised in all of the various technologies. Here is a great article on what is required to drive the value and adoption of ag related technology moving forward: agfundernews.com/agtech-is-useless-if-we-cannot-engage-farmers