Phosphorus Fertilizer Placement and Tillage Interaction for Corn and Soybean in the U.S.

Meta-Analysis of Phosphorus Fertilizer Placement and Tillage Interaction.

Crops: Corn for grain Corn for silage Soybeans
4R Practices: Metadata Project

Meta-analysis of Phosphorus Fertilizer Placement and Tillage Interaction for Corn and Soybean in the U.S.

Lead Researcher:

Dr. Dorivar Ruiz Diaz


Kansas State University

Start Date: 2014

End Date: 2015

Collaborating scientists and universities

  • Dr. David Mengel, Kansas State University
  • Dr. Cristie Preston, Senior Agronomist, Nutrien

Matching Funds

  • Kansas Soybean Commission
  • Kansas Corn Commission
  • Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Kansas State University Department of Agronomy

Project Summary

Phosphorus placement and interactions with tillage has been evaluated extensively for corn and soybean in the US. Results suggest that placement of P fertilizer can play an important role in early P plant uptake and yield as well as potential P loses to surface water for some soils and tillage conditions. The rate of P uptake per unit of root in corn decreases throughout the vegetative growth phase; and therefore early season P fertilizer applications and placement can be particularly important for optimum plant growth. Broadcast application can result in a more uniform distribution and likely affecting more soil volume. Crops have shown a response for various levels of soil test, including low soil test P (STP) conditions and medium to high STP. However, accumulation of P near the soil surface may result in higher lost potential with runoff; and possible decreased P availability due to increased soil-fertilizer interaction in soils with high P sorption capacity. Broadcast application may be more practical for some producers and suitable for some soils and tillage conditions. However, soils and tillage conditions and the interaction with P application methods should be evaluated with larger datasets and across different soils and environments. Potential P loses with water runoff can be affected significantly by phosphorus placement and tillage. Many studies in the US evaluated water runoff and P loses as affected by tillage and fertilizer. However studies often show different results, which may be due to differences in soils, rainfall amounts and intensities, slope, moisture content, and infiltration rate. Evaluation and summary of the existing literature can help to identify factors contributing to potential P loses in addition to tillage and fertilizer placement. Crop response and P loss potential can be affected by the interaction between soil and tillage factors with P fertilizer placement. Accurate evaluation of these interactions would require large dataset that comprise a variety of soils, tillage and placement combinations.

Project Goals:

  • Analyze and summarize published and unpublished field-based data on corn and soybean response to P placement and the interaction with tillage.
  • Complete a data review on yield response and phosphorus loses with surface runoff as affected by P placement and tillage interaction.
  • Include data review of estimated P use efficiency with placement and tillage interactions; and estimate the economic return associated with different systems.

Project Results:

  • Very limited amount of work is available on the long-term effect of specific management systems used by producers for tillage and/or placement on potential P loses to surface water.
  • Some states in the US have limited amount of published data on the overall topic of tillage by P placement interaction for both agronomic and environmental implications.
  • Results of all evidence analysis show higher corn yield means with broadcast applications in soils with soil-test P below <20 ppm phosphorus.
  • Higher corn yields were also observed with conventional tillage in soils with high STP.
  • Analysis of direct evidence shows generally lower corn yields in no-till systems with little difference between placements.
  • Band P fertilizer applications yielded highest in high STP and may provide a yield increase only if the rates are limiting (< 19 lb P ac-1).

Annual Reports