UI researchers say data show no need for potash

UI researchers say data show no need for potash

A roundup of agricultural news:

URBANA — Three University of Illinois researchers are questioning the widespread use of potash, or potassium chloride, in fields in the Corn Belt.

Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney and Timothy Ellsworth say Corn Belt soils — and many productive soils worldwide — are well supplied with potassium.

Those soils have no need for potash, which has been commonly applied to fields for the last 50 years.

The soil scientists, in a posting on Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, say soil potassium testing is of no value for predicting soil potassium availability and that fertilization with potassium chloride seldom pays.

They did four years of biweekly sampling for potassium testing and found that test values fluctuated drastically and increased even when there was no fertilization, according to a UI release.

Khan said for a 200-bushel corn crop, "about 46 pounds of potassium is removed in the grain, whereas the residues return 180 pounds of potassium to the soil — three times more than the next corn crop needs and all readily available."

In fact, test levels at the UI's Morrow Plots have risen over time, even though it hasn't been fertilized with potassium.

"In 1955, the K (potassium) test was 216 pounds per acre for the check plot where no potassium has ever been added. In 2005, it was 360," Khan said.

In some ways, potassium chloride fertilization can be detrimental, he added.

"Potassium depresses calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial minerals for any living system," he said.

Farmer breakfast set Nov. 6

DEWEY — The Dewey Bank will host a breakfast for farmers Nov. 6, with four speakers discussing the farm economy.

The breakfast will be at 8 a.m. at the Dewey Community Church, 16 Third St. Potential attendees should call the bank at 897-1125, by Friday to reserve a spot.

Speakers will include:

— Dean Killion, grain merchandiser for Premier Cooperative.

— Darrel Good, professor emeritus in the University of Illinois Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics.

— Dwight D. Raab, state coordinator for the Illinois Farm Business-Farm Management Association.

— Fred Dietz, an agricultural risk management adviser for Advance Trading.

Harvests nearing completion

SPRINGFIELD — Eighty-five percent of the Illinois soybean crop had been harvested by Sunday, while 74 percent of the corn crop was in, the Illinois field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported.

The harvests have been moving faster than average — in the past five years, only 77 percent of soybeans and 68 percent of corn were harvested by Oct. 27.

In the state's eastern region, which includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Kankakee, the harvests were slightly farther along. About 90 percent of the soybean harvest and 80 percent of the corn harvest was complete.

Soil conditions remain dry. Statewide, 40 percent of the topsoil had adequate moisture, while another 40 percent was short and 20 percent was very short. Only 34 percent of subsoils had adequate moisture; 40 percent were short and 26 percent were very short.

Sections (2):News, Business
Topics (1):Agriculture