Managing Soil Nutrient Supply

As we begin to think about fall after harvest activities and building our soil nutrient supply for next year to get a jump start on 2017 before winter comes, lets examine 2 approaches to managing your soil nutrient supply: Sufficiency Approach and the Build-Maintenance Approach.

The Sufficiency Approach is a short term focused approach that maximizes profitability in the year of application by applying just enough nutrients for that seasons crop therefore minimizing fertilizer costs.

The Build—Maintenance Approach is a long-term approach focused on ensuring nutrients are not the limiting factor for crop growth while proving near maximum yield and profitability over the long-run.

Build—Maintenance Approach Sufficiency Approach
Raises soil test levels to non-limiting values—builds soil Just meets the nutrient demands of current crop
Works well for Phosphorus and Potassium Works well for Nitrogen
Use for owned land Use for rented land
Greater flexibility long-term—for example: if you need to reduce costs one season you can rest assured that you have soil supply levels built up to be able to reduce fertilizer without jeopardizing yield Short-term higher returns—minimize fertilizer cost for single season

The main difference between the two approaches is that the Build-Maintenance calls for fertilizer to be applied above the critical value (the soil test value at which the soil can supply sufficient nutrients to achieve normal crop yield) or maintenance fertilizer and the sufficiency approach does not call for any fertilizer to be applied above the critical value.

These 2 approaches are not mutually exclusive across your farm operation.  Think about each farm individually and what approach works best for each property you own or rent.