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Phosphate Starter Fertilizer

By: Ken Panchuk, PAg

Zero-till canola seedlings
Zero-till canola seedlings off to a
vigorous uniform start
Adding starter phosphate with the seed or very near the seed-row is always the right decision in Saskatchewan. Over the past few years, the high yields we have had from our crops have drawn the soil phosphorus bank down, and that phosphorus needs to be replenished. This spring has seen strong drying conditions, rapid cooling, frost and even areas that have quickly become saturated. Crops germinating under stress conditions need help, which can be provided through easy access to starter phosphate that also supplies some early nitrogen. 

Access to phosphorus is critical for early root development, nitrogen fixation in pulses and legumes, early flowering, seed production and uniform ripening. Seedlings take up large amounts of phosphate in the early stages of growth, which can be supplied to the crop by one of several forms of phosphorus fertilizer available in the market. Apply the rate of phosphate recommended by soil tests either with the seed or very near the seed-row, while not exceeding the maximum safe rate of phosphate applied with the seed. See the Guidelines for Safe Rates of Nitrogen Applied with the Seed and Phosphorus in Crop Production fact sheets for more information.

If larger amounts than the safe rates of phosphate are required, apply the rest in the side or mid-row band with the nitrogen and other nutrients recommended by the soil test. 

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