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More farmers adding sulfur to soilPosted Thursday, February 7, 2013, at 11:33 AM
In the last few years there has been much discussion about using sulfur fertilizer.
More and more producers are using sulfur regularly in their fertility program. Sulfur is critically important in all crops and there are more signs of sulfur deficiency across the country.
Corn and wheat in particular, which require larger amounts of sulfur have shown good yield increases where sulfur has been applied in many instances.
There are several reasons that sulfur is less abundant in our soils than it once was:
One downside to reduced tillage is that more residue leads to cooler soils, which in turn means slower breakdown or mineralization of organic matter. For each 1% of organic matter in your soils, you would typically expect to get two to three pounds of sulfur free each year. With the higher residue levels, the carbon to sulfur ratio becomes important in the mineralization to release the sulfur. If the carbon to sulfur ratio is:
The bottom line is that you don't have a lot of mobilization in your soils, nor do you get a lot of sulfur most years from mineralization. Your crops are using quite a bit of sulfur each year and you need to fertilize with enough sulfur to supply each season's crop. Some common crop residue carbons to sulfur ratios are:
Corn residue -- 350 parts carbon to 1 part sulfur
Soybean residue - 125 parts carbon to 1 part sulfur
Wheat residue -- 300 parts carbon to 1 part sulfur
If you have a lot of carbon (corn or wheat residue for example) you may need to apply just a little more sulfur than normal.
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As our local University of Missouri Agronomy Extension Specialist, Crook has been writing a column for the print edition Agriculture page for the past three years and we will now be sharing it on our web version. Crook has a bachelor and masters degree in agronomy from University of Missouri and received his doctorate in Agronomy from Kansas State University. He was in soybean variety development research for 22 years for various seed companies and has been Saline County's agronomy specialist for 10 years.