Taking advantage of new and powerful corn hybrids requires getting the most out of yield-building nitrogen (N). And efficient phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and other soil-nutrient use keeps input costs in line.

That’s on Gill Mumm’s mind as he incorporates proven fertility practices with new and advanced fertilizer materials designed to enhance production. Mumm farms with his brothers Brent and Curt and father Ronnie in Chester, NE, near the northeast Kansas border. They are among growers interested in new and improved products and application methods providing more ways to get the most out of the soil.

Nutrient management was among the hottest topics at the recent North Central Extension-Industry Soil Fertility Conference (NCEISF) hosted by Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames. Everything from products designed to enhance liquid manure management to using more micronutrients were on the agenda.

It’s the type of information the Mumms relish. They aren’t afraid to try new fertilizer alternatives. They run about a mostly irrigated 50-50 corn and soybean rotation with some wheat worked into the program. “We often lack enough P, so we try to keep it built up with an 11-52-0 dry fertilizer program,” Mumm says.

To make the application more uniform, they used a capsulated product that contains four nutrients in one pellet. They product, MicroEssentials SZ (12-40-0-10-1), is applied at a rate of about 125 lbs./acre, Mumm says.

The product claims to distribute the N, P, K, sulfur and zinc in proper amounts for every square foot.

The main N source is either a 28% or 32% liquid and some anhydrous ammonia. The pelleted blend is normally applied in the fall or early spring before a 32% liquid N application. “We usually push for total N of 190-220 lbs./acre,” Mumm says. “With the liquid applications, we can cover ground in half the time, it’s more uniform and it’s safer.”

The pelleted dry blend is also applied on corn stalks on acres to be planted in beans the following year. “The uniform release of P will help us get a good start on the bean ground,” Mumm says.

Nutrient input costs are among the highest budget-busters for growers. Purdue University Extension Agronomist Robert Nielsen reminds growers to use common sense when using new products. “No miracle products are out there,” says Nielsen, also a corn specialist. “But new products, like pellets, may help growers simplify the application.”