SASKATOON, Saskatchewan, March 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- As Indiana farmers continue to enjoy excellent yields, researchers are warning that nutrient removal is now outpacing nutrient application, a trend which could soon hit growers' bottom lines.
These are the findings of an exclusive eKonomics nutrient balance analysis, which recently collected USDA harvest records and manure application data, along with the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) fertilizer consumption reports.
"Ultimately, Indiana farmers may find themselves victims of their own success," said Robert Mullen, Ph.D., Director of Agronomy at Nutrien. "Thanks to recent bumper crops, growers here are removing nutrients faster than they are applying them."
Since 1975, the potassium balance in Indiana has dropped from a surplus of 35 pounds-per-acre to a 4-pound-per-acre deficit—a decrease of more than 112 percent. Meanwhile, the phosphorus balance also dropped 186 percent, from a 20 pound-per-acre surplus to an 18-pound-per-acre deficit.
"This is a significant swing, which if not corrected will lead to more Indiana soils falling below the critical level for these critical nutrients," Mullen stated.
Today, a quarter of Indiana soils already fall below the critical level for potassium, while nearly 29 percent are deficient in phosphorus—a 4 percent increase in soils that test below the critical level in just five years.
"The big takeaway here is—it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when yields have been so good," Mullen said. "But if you're not replenishing the soil at levels that match harvests, it's not a question of if your bottom line will be impacted, but when. And that applies to everyone. Whether you're renting for one year or have owned and operated the land for decades."
"There's no escaping the math. When nutrient balance trends go down, farmer profits ultimately go down too," said Mullen.