Wheat Pete’s Word, Feb 2: Nitrogen and hydrogen, filling in wheat gaps, and changing minds

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Of course we’re in for six more weeks of winter, Groundhog, we live in Canada! You know what else you can expect for the next six weeks (and longer)? Wheat Pete’s Word!

On this week’s episode, host Peter Johnson explores many topics, including some shifting thinking on sulphur, how nitrogen fertilizer can acidify soil, and offers a quick thank you for all the questions and phone messages that have flooded in.

Have a question you’d like Johnson to address or some yield results to send in? Disagree with something he’s said? Leave him a message at 1-888-746-3311, send him a tweet (@wheatpete), or email him at [email protected]

SUMMARY

  • Doing the Word again, Groundhog Day!
  • Changing your mind on sulphur
  • You learn more when you’re wrong, you know
  • Plenty of questions rolling in! Thank you, says Pete
  • The best cover crop is a healthy cash crop
  • From a soil health perspective, and more
  • Amount of ash and emissions from the Tonga volcano is the largest since 1991 (that was summer of ’91)
  • Does that mean a low heat unit year in 2022? Worth looking in to
  • It’s hard to go broke making a profit, so sell some
  • Inflation will be a big factor this year
  • Is there a spring variety for soft red wheat? Nope, sorry. Mix it and call it feed or live with what you have
  • N questions: pH and N interactions
  • It’s all about hydrogen, baby
  • Urea is NH2 (two Hs one N)
  • Nitrogen takes on another H (so that makes the soil less acidic, slightly) and then another (to make NH4)
  • Generally tend to put N in a concentrated zone
  • Then, it becomes nitrate, and releases all them Hs, lowering pH in the long term
  • N stabilizers necessary on every pound of N? In the UK that’s where they’re at, because they’re trying to minimize all losses
  • Soil type is the driver
  • Split app N on silt loam vs. side dress? Losses are minimal to begin with
  • But a clay soil that stays wet, you’re at high risk of loss and stabilizers can really pay
  • Surface applied N with no rain in the forecast, so a urease inhibitor is important
  • Can we time our N app to when a hybrid needs N? Ie. later on heavy kernel corn
  • 28 per cent vs urea: can I broadcast urea upfront (cheaper than UAN)? You’ll need 20 per cent more, because you’re going to lose it in the early going (heavy clay). Or side-dress urea.
  • Broadcast + ESN on sandy soil? No real good reason to use it, but make sure you put it on ahead of a rain
  • Sulphur! You can’t build S? If you’re adding element S on a fairly regular basis, can move away from added S in-season or at seeding, potentially