Fertilizing no-till cereals and canola
Fertilizer N placement has been a limiting factor to the adoption of one-pass no-till crop production in the Parkland region of the prairies. Placement of N in the seed row is limited by crop tolerance. The development of side banding openers for air seeders is expected to improve the options available to producers. Two experiments, located at a number of locations in Saskatchewan, were conducted to assess the potential for seedrow and side band placement of N for one-pass no-till seeding of cereals and canola. In the first study, fertilizer N was placed in the seed row using either a 2 cm knife, 5 cm spoon, or in a 20 cm spread under a sweep. The control was a side band opener, separating seed 2.5 cm to the side and 5 cm above the fertilizer band. All openers were mounted on a pneumatic plot seeder with shanks on 20 cm row spacing. When N was seed placed, increasing seed-fertilizer spread resulted in an increase in seedling stand for wheat and barley. Relative to the zero N rate, barley seedling stand was reduced up to 66 % , and wheat 76 % , when N was applied with the 2 cm knife opener. Increasing the seed - fertilizer spread from 2 cm to 5 cm with the spoon reduced the seedling stand damage by approximately 20%, while little effect on seedling numbers was observed for the sweep and side band opener. Damage to the seedling stand was reflected in restricted grain yield response for the knife opener. However, the spoon, sweep and side band opener all showed a similar grain yield response to increasing N rate. The second field study evaluated the performance of five bolt-on side band openers in the establishment and yield of spring wheat and canola at 10 locations in Saskatchewan in 1995 and 1996. The openers tested included Flexi-coil stealth, Dutch-Vem Eaglebuster, Swede SW470, GEN 200 and Morris Edge on mount. Trial locations were selected to provide a range of soil and environmental conditions. When properly adjusted for individual site soil conditions at seeding, little difference can be expected in the performance of the side band openers tested in the seedling establishment and grain yield of spring wheat. With canola the results indicate that while three of the five openers showed poor performance in achieving proper seed - fertilizer separation, the ability of the canola crop to branch and compensate for poor crop establishment prevented any significant grain yield loss. In other words, a poor crop establishment did not necessarily translate into reduced grain yield with canola. For both spring wheat and canola, where differences between openers were recorded, the Flexicoil and GEN opener gave the best results. Producers are cautioned that wear on an opener can lead to changes in the seed-fertilizer separation observed when the opener was new. Careful attention to opener wear is necessary if producers are to ensure proper crop establishment and yield.
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