Donald Ellersick, QLF Regional Sales Agronomist ID/WA
Dryland Farming is defined as the cultivation of crops without irrigation in regions limited by moisture. In addition to water limitations, growing dryland wheat in most places comes with many challenges, and more growers need to focus on better nutrient management. I think we all like to think as farmers and agronomists that we are doing a good job following the 4R’s (right rate, right source, right placement, and right timing). QLF Agronomy programs can help combat some of these problems with Liquid Carbon-Based Fertilizers (L-CBF). Using better chemistry in our fertilizer products that partner with your biology is key. Growers can utilize L-CBF as an energy source, to help your crop fertility programs go further and work harder for you, all while building healthier plants and more resilient soils.
Eastern Washington is a very interesting climate to grow dryland wheat. Yields range from 25-bushel crops in Central Washington to 120-bushel crops in far Eastern Washington. What a lot of people don’t understand about the state of Washington is that there are two different climates that separate the state between east and west. The climate in Western Washington is mostly what people stereotypically think of the whole state. Rainy and cool for most of the year. Seattle receives about 37 inches of annual rainfall. Eastern Washington on the other hand deals with something called the rain shadow effect. This is caused by the Cascade Mountain Range which separates the state’s two different climates. Central Washington is a very dry climate with very sandy soils and some places only getting around 11 inches of precipitation throughout the year. Once you get far enough east, the rain shadow begins to diminish. The Palouse region of Eastern Washington receives around 21 inches of precipitation, but most of all Eastern Washingtons’ precipitation comes during the winter through snowfall. Most of the soils in the Palouse region are rich heavy soils, high in organic matter. These unique soils in the region were transported there by wind millions of years ago. Most farmers in Eastern Washington decide to use a summer fallow rotation to try to hold moisture.
Today L-CBF products are bringing benefits to Eastern Washington winter and spring wheat. Winter wheat usually starts being planted in early September and goes all the way through the middle of October depending on where you are located. The placement of nutrients with planters is a commonly shared practice in the region. Planter fertilizer bands typically use 8-10 gallons per acre of 10-34-0 in one 2×2 band and 45-55 gallons per acre of UAN 32% in another 2×2 band. What farmers are finding out by utilizing QLF Starter L-CBF 7-21-3 MKP they can supplement and displace 2-4 gallons of 10-34-0 with 2-4 gallons of L-CBF 7-21-3 MKP to enhance the quality and performance of straight 10-34-0. The features from L-CBF + MKP (monopotassium phosphate) blend is making their fertilizer band more efficient while maintaining a high concentration of phosphorus.
In all applications of UAN 32% solutions growers are reducing nitrogen and adding L-CBF BOOST (4-0-3-2S with 30% sugars) at inclusion of 10%. As an inclusion product this helps defrays the cost and greatly enhances the chemistry, lowering pH, buffering out harsh salts, and supplying energy to improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE). This ends up being approximately 4-6 gallons of L-CBF BOOST coverage per acre. Once winter has passed and the fields aren’t muddy, it is time to “green up” the wheat plants. Our local dealers and crop advisors in the region recommend 12-14 gallons of UAN 32% with 1-2 gallons per acre of L-CBF BOOST. Once the plant has reached flag leaf growers can enhance crop performance with QLF’s safe and efficient source for foliar nitrogen L-CBF Amino15. This product is easy to handle and usually applied at 2-4 gallons per acre. L-CBF Amino15 (15N-0P-1K) requires no water or energy to assimilate the nitrogen forms (Urea and L-Amino Acid) to build protein. Boosting crop performance at a crucial time with this unique blend brings multiple benefits, including key adjuvant characteristics such as drift control, natural humectant, and a lower pH formula. A spring wheat program is very similar to winter wheat timings, but one interesting difference in a spring wheat field is that you have more time to break down all the straw in your field. A fall pass of chemicals, what local farmers and Agronomists call the “Final Kill”, is an opportunity to add 1-2 gallons per acre of L-CBF BOOST, enhancing overall chemistry performance. Not only does your spray lay down and stick to where you want it, realized improvements in residue decomposition benefit your management of soil nutrients. A local crop advisor said, “it breaks straw down faster than I’ve ever seen.” If the straw can get broken down faster in the fall, then the soil nutrient bank is more available in the following spring. This residue decomposition and nutrient recycling benefit could pay back dividends both for soils and profitability. These efficiency gains open the door to reallocating some of our funds and focusing our attention on other applications maybe as an industry we haven’t spent much time with. Contact QLF Agronomy to learn more about all the L-CBF products and placements.