Richard Pelchat has tried it all. An experienced grain grower with 2,000 acres of farmland, he knows that to get the best from his fertilizer he has to match the blend to the nutrient needs of his crop. After switching to liquid, he found that the form of the fertilizer also makes a big difference.
“I tried everything to get the best nutrition and while I had good results, I didn’t have great results,” he says. “But after switching to liquid fertilizer I would say that’s the best way to fertilize a crop. Liquids don’t have to be broken down and plants get the nutrition right from the start.”
Pelchat was initially hesitant about switching to liquid fertilizer. But after seeing the results his neighbours were getting, he approached his local retailer, Cavalier Agrow, about how to get more bushels out of his crop nutrition program.
“The best place for fertilizer is as close to the seed as possible without damaging that seed. With minimum or no-till seeders, liquid fertilizer achieves that goal,” says Greg Frey, an agronomist with Cavalier, a large liquid fertilizer retailer in Saskatchewan. “With dry fertilizer the blend is not as uniform and it’s more difficult to get it close to the seed safely.”
Granular fertilizer remains the most common form of fertilizer on the prairies. Nitrogen is also often delivered as gaseous anhydrous ammonia, but liquid application is gaining ground. While all formats have their advantages and markets, Cavalier is banking on liquid fertilizer, recently adding a two million-gallon tank at its main location in Meota, SK.
“Liquid fertilizer provides all the nutrient support your crop needs in one pass,” says Frey. “It is good for conserving moisture because it allows for minimal-disturbance, one-pass seeding. Our customers keep asking for it, so we know it is a good solution for this area of the country.”
Micronutrients are also becoming an important part of very targeted nutrition programs that depend heavily on soil test results. Adding micronutrients to liquid fertilizer is simple, and growers get an even blend that they can apply where it is needed most.
Pelchat uses Cavalier’s soil testing services to determine his mix each year, and the company brings a truck to his farm, delivering the product directly into storage tanks in his yard. He had to make slight modifications to his seeder, but using liquid fertilizer is simple and he has reaped the benefits come harvest.