Monday, March 25, 2013

Snow, Poor Man's Fertilizer

LuAnn and I were watching the NCAA March Madness this afternoon and I said our wheat looks better with every snow.  (crystals, structure, remember?)  She was doing something else but blurted out, snow is poor man's nitrogen.  That triggered this blog.

One writer estimates 2-12 lbs. of nitrogen per acre with a snow or rainfall.  I am thinking the snowflakes pick up more nitrogen than raindrops but they are formed very similarly in the atmosphere.  I can't find any data to back up my thinking.  It just makes sense that snowflakes are more crystalline in structure and combine with chemicals or fertilizer easier.

That is part of nature.  I may get more, I may get less.  How do I figure what I have and put on the right amount for it?  I have seen good results from Green Seeker but that technology has not caught on yet, at least not here.

How can I feed my wheat the best I can with the dollars I have?  The first recipe I gave you intrigues me.  I have never used that system.  I have never used that blend of fertilizer and humate.  I have to be very devoted to get it and spread it on my wheat.  It is not something I can buy from my dealer, though I can come somewhat close.

Somewhat may not be good enough.  Typically, a farmer adds 50-100 lbs of actual nitrogen to his wheat.  Some, many add sulfur.  We tend to over nitrate crops and not feed enough of anything else.

I have had good success adding 100 lbs. AMS, 100 lbs urea.  If you know your soil test or even have a tissue test you need more than that.  We need to feed the wheat that has wintered over, picking up whatever it can.

Add 100 lbs of MAP or DAP if your soil test is as low as mine is, and many are, and provide at least 1 lb. of actual Boron.  If you have soil and/or tissue tested, you probably need more than that to raise a really good crop.

That is my thinking after a few days of reading these posts and emails, what is yours?

Thanks,

Ed Winkle

6 comments:

  1. I doubt there is much nitrogen in that melted snow, as nitrogen is about a hundred times less soluble in water as carbon dioxide at these temperatures, about 0.03‰ in weight.
    http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html
    Apparently the content of nitrogen and sulfur in snow and rain has much increased since the Industrial Revolution, and the content of it is very dependent on seasons and proximity to cities, so what seems to work on one farm might be different on another, the "poor man's fertilizer" is probably not a generality.

    I suppose most of the air imprisoned in the snow blanket would be released as ambient air as the snowflakes melt, or in the run-offs, maybe also taking with it nitrogen from the soil, but there are apparently no study on the nitrogen fertilizer effect of snow.

    Some late spring snow falls seem to have such an effect to some, but probably more because they regulate germination and dormancy than because of a nitrogen increase. I can well imagine that soil bacteria under the insulating snow would be able to feed better from that blanket of mostly nitrogen gas, and make a bunch of soil nutrients or crop residue available to the crop after it starts or resumes growth. I don't imagine there would be much surface bacteria activity if the soil was exposed to frost and icy winds... Cold blooded earthworms will probably show more activity under a deep snow layer too.

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  2. LuAnn is correct, we have always been taught that there was N in the snow. BUT, ! ! A GREEN combine in Ed's wheat field. What is this world coming to ! !

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  3. Good points on the snow, but since I have been studying structured water, I can't get snowflakes out of my brain.

    Yes, a John Deere combine in my field is very misplaced. You have good eyes and must be a long time reader of my comments here and NewAgTalk. A Silver Seeder would be much more appropriate.

    "Poor people have poor ways," I was taught. That was the best deal on a harvester we could find that day! I learned a few things I liked about the machine and confirmed a bunch I did not like.

    It's hard not to have volunteer wheat after any combine and get the residue spread evenly across the width of the header. This machine could not be set to do a perfect job the way it was built, at least we weren't able to get it to.

    Ed

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  4. Just Phred here, Ed. Posted anonymous. Didn't know how do it on some of the other ways. The JD can be made to do the job you like. Really need an AirFoil in it to do that job. Spreading can be difficult, but can be done if we would only for get those WIDE platforms

    ReplyDelete
  5. Phred,

    Deere should be able to build that combine that way for that amount of money. Did you see the post on Machinery Talk where an Iowa farmer near Waterloo was invited to speak to 150 engineers and sales development force?

    http://www.talk.newagtalk.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=377427&mid=2995101#M2995101

    Ed

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