Focus on the Furrow
The yield potential of a corn plant is determined in the first 4 to 6 weeks, but that is also when the young plant is most susceptible to pests, diseases and the environment in general. Once the seed is taken out of that bag, many elements in nature are working against its genetic yield potential, that’s why growers have to start protecting it early. While some of the drivers are outside of a farmers control, temperature, rainfall, soil type; others can be managed such as soil fertility, disease and pest control and the timing of nutrient availability. The days of high commodity prices saw an increase in the use of liquid in-furrow applications, but with the current prices, some growers have reduced their use in an effort to reduce input costs. But these growers still have the equipment on their planters to do in-furrow applications, and many solutions are being offered to them on the market to enhance their corn plants in that early season window. An industry partnership led by West Central with BASF, Nufarm, FMC and DOW, formed the LIFT (Leaders of In Furrow Technology) group, offering integrated solutions for in-furrow application. This approach of providing a full range of in furrow solutions to help farmers get their crop established to its greatest advantage is a great effort.
The current lead products in this segment are pop-up and in-furrow fertilizers, applied on top of the seed in the case of the former and 2x2 for the in-furrow. 2x2 refers to applying two inches over and two inches down from the seed, this technique keeps the high salt liquid fertilizers from negatively impacting seed germination, even when applied at high rates. For pop-up application specialized fertilizers with lower salinity are applied at lower volumes per acre for seed safety. After fertilization, pest control is the next set of in furrow applied solutions with insecticides focused on corn rootworm followed by fungicides. Both of these inputs help protect the seedling beyond the zone of protection formed by the seed treatment and are targeting areas with higher pest pressure.
Product Development Manager with responsibilities for soil insecticides, soil applied biologics and early development insecticides.
At Bayer we are developing technologies for this market segment, starting with showing the benefit of a Serenade in-furrow application. We already have the industry leading seed treatment package in the United States with Poncho/VOTiVO, and we are continuing to build in this early plant establishment space by adding another biological compound. As we have developed this concept in the field we have ensured that the seed-applied VOTiVO microbe Bacillus firmus is biologically compatible with Serenade Bacillus subtilis applied in-furrow and that the two give complementary yield benefit. If you are considering placing two living organisms side by side, it is important to evaluate if they will provide additive value. Unlike a chemical active ingredient these microbials colonize the plant roots and provide many benefits including nematode damage protection, nutrient solubilization and disease prevention. Keep an eye on this in-furrow space for innovations that seek to protect the seedling and push yield towards it’s full genetic potential in that environment.