Sulfur for Plant Nutrition

An inadequate S supply will not only reduce yield and crop quality, but it will decrease N use efficiency and enhance the risk of N loss to the environment. Studies have demonstrated that supplying S to deficient pastures increased yields, N use efficiency, and lowered N losses from the soil. Due to the close linkage between S and N, Schnug and Haneklaus (2005) estimated that one unit of S deficit to meet plant demand can result in 15 units of N that are potentially lost to the environment. They calculated that S deficiencies in Germany may be contributing to an annual loss of 300 million kg of N (or 10% of the total N fertilizer consumption of the country).

Click here to read their article, Sulfur for Plant Nutrition.

Schnug, E. and S. Haneklaus 2005. In L.J. de Kok and E. Schnug (eds.) Proc. First Sino-German workshop on aspects of sulfur nutrition of plants. Braunschweig, Federal Agricultural Research Centre (FAL), p.131.

Learning from the History We Haven’t Read about Sulfur

I remember when I first started out at a retail farm center in the mid-seventies that agriculture was changing rapidly. Soybeans were a new row crop that we knew little about except that we planted them in 38” or 40” rows, put a couple of hundred pounds of a low nitrogen blend of fertilizer in the row, and cultivated them because we didn’t have good herbicides.

At that time, I was working in a large forage area with a lot of beef and dairy animals. The majority of corn that was grown never saw an elevator but was fed to the cattle and hogs either as a ground feed mix from the local mills or as silage in the dairies. 100 bushel to the acre was the magic number for corn yield, and 40 bushel to the acre was the number that we were reaching for wheat and soybeans.

I recently looked back at some soil tests that I still have from the seventies that came from our old Agrico soil laboratory in Washington Court House, Ohio. The seventy or so soil tests I have from that time showed no deficiencies of sulfur. As a matter of fact, all were sufficient or high. The universities did not even test for sulfur and for good reason………we were getting plenty from our power plants before the scrubbers were installed to clean up sulfur emissions, and from our cars, trucks, and tractors before we had catalytic converters and low sulfur fuels. Then we started to hear about acid rain which was killing our forests and polluting our atmosphere.

Fast forward 40 years and we are not getting free sulfur any longer. During my last five years at a retail farm center, 97% of soil tests have come back low or deficient in sulfur. This rate probably would have been even higher but some of my soil tests included burley tobacco in which the majority was required to use sulfate of potash. Our rates of applied nitrogen are doubled now compared to the seventies, and when you use a 16-20 to 1 ratio of N to S, that means the removal of sulfur is a lot greater than in the seventies.

So where do we get sulfur if it is not being supplied to us as it was then? Is sulfur (which is removed as pounds per acre), crucial to the production of today’s crop?

Sulfur is very essential to today’s agriculture and there are many in the agricultural community believe it should be the “fourth major nutrient,” behind nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, and I do not disagree. Protein production will suffer, especially in our needed protein crops without sulfur. Nitrogen will not be as efficient in the plant without sulfur. Chlorophyll production will not occur as it should in the plant without sulfur, and a lot of our soil microorganisms cannot function in the soil to promote the feeding of the plant without sulfur.

SUL4R-PLUS® products are a good and efficient way to provide the sulfur that is needed in agriculture today. SUL4R-PLUS products are in the sulfate form that the plant requires, and because the calcium nutrient is also contained in the granule, it is slowly released when the plant needs it.

Is all sulfur the same? I will be quick to tell you that elemental sulfur will probably not get released to the plant in the same year it was applied. Other sulfates, such as AMS, are so apt to leach that they could be gone in as short as 5-10 days (Texas A&M study – Dr. Mowrey).

Harry S. Truman once said, “The only thing new in this world is the history we haven’t read.” History shows us that we once got all the sulfur we needed. Now we know our sources of sulfur are no longer available and we have to supply it! We must recognize the need for a good source of sulfur for our crops if we are to be efficient and productive. SUL4R-PLUS products are what I, the Crop Doctor, prescribe.

SUL4R-PLUS® Products Deliver Significant Value on Cotton in Georgia, What Can They Do for Your Cotton Crop?

A recent trial of SUL4R-PLUS® products on cotton in Tifton County Georgia demonstrates the agronomic value of these innovative fertilizer products.
In Tifton – Loamy Sand soil, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer, applied at a rate of 100 lbs per acre, yielded .44 more bales per acre, or 220 lbs of lint per acre than the grower standard.  At today’s pricing, this is an increase of $173.80 per acre to the grower’s top line.

In the same soil conditions, SUL4R-PLUS BORON fertilizer, applied at a rate of 100 lbs per acre, yielded .56 more bales per acre, or 280 more points of lint per acre than the grower standard.  At today’s pricing, this is a top line increase of $221.20 per acre for the grower.

See the complete summary above of the results from this trial with all four SUL4R-PLUS products and contact us at www.SUL4R-PLUS.com to see how the agronomic advantages and superior quality of SUL4R-PLUS® crop nutrient products can help improve your grower’s bottom line.

Follow us on twitter @sul4rplus or LinkedIn for up to date field trial results.

Flooding in the Midwest – More Serious Than Most Believe

By Ralph E. Hart, Crop Doctor

Most regions have periodic flooding, and many farmers deal with it at least annually. River bottom fields flood but the flood waters tends to crest and go down usually within a week. This year’s long-term flooding in Nebraska and the Midwest will result in many of the same problems as typical short-term flooding including debris removal and sand distribution. Mobile nutrients will be stripped away and will need to be replaced while some nutrients such as phosphorus actually may be higher than before the flooding.

The critical difference between short-term flooding and long-term flooding is what is called “Fallow Syndrome” or “Post Flooded Corn Syndrome,” primarily characterized by phosphorus deficiency and slow early growth. This slow early growth is not necessarily due to the soil being deficient in phosphorus, but to the plant’s inability to take in the nutrient.

In a normal, healthy field, there are beneficial fungi called vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (VAM) that form a symbiotic relationship with corn plants to assist in the absorption of water and nutrients. The hyphae, or external branching structures, of the VAM can be up to 100 times longer than the roots and extend the nutrient absorption zone of the roots. When the field has been empty or underwater with no host plants for these VAM to live with, their populations decrease significantly.

Most agricultural plants and weeds can be hosts for VAM, with the exception of the brassica species (e.g. canola, cabbage, broccoli, etc.) and sugar beets. When corn or any other host crop is planted, VAM populations increase, however, the amount of time it takes VAM populations to rebound is lengthy and could take up to two years to recover.

As soon as the water recedes, time is of the essence to get a VAM hosted plant back into the field. Research has shown it is best to plant soybeans the first year if water goes off the field by at least May or June. Since many mobile nutrients have been depleted, it is important to replace nutrients such as sulfate sulfur and boron. SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer is an excellent product that has sulfate, boron, and zinc readily available and stabilized by a calcium nutrient. Research has also shown that VAM relies on sulfate, and the sulfate is a key catalyst for an enzyme called glutathione, which is the plant’s defense mechanism to combat stress.

If soybeans do not get planted because the water fails to recede in time, it is important that VAM hosted plants get into the field as soon as possible, even if it is weeds. It would be tempting to spray herbicides to control emerging weeds even in the absence of a crop, but most weeds are host plants to VAM, and its population needs to rebound as quickly as possible. Cereal crops, planted in early fall, would be an excellent way to increase the VAM population.

Farming has never been easy, and sometimes the weather can really throw us a curve. This year’s long-term flooding is a terrible disaster, and many thousands of productive acres will lay idle. Our hearts go out to those in the Midwest that are enduring this phenomenon, and we know that they will come out of this stronger and more determined.

SUL4R-PLUS® Team Reaches Historic Safety Milestone

As of March 17, 2019, the SUL4R-PLUS® team has achieved two years without an OSHA recordable incident, including no medical treatment cases (MTC) and no lost workday cases (LWC).

This achievement is no small task given that many SUL4R-PLUS employees work with heavy equipment and tools every day. This milestone illustrates our team’s relentless and continued efforts to create a culture where safety is the most important aspect of our business. By focusing on personal safety and the safety of others, we can safely deliver the highest quality products to our customers.

Congratulations to the entire SUL4R-PLUS team for achieving this important milestone.

Little Known Role of Sulfate Sulfur

By Ralph E. Hart, Crop Doctor

Most know that sulfur has an essential function in the plant by converting nitrogen to protein. It also plays a major role in chlorophyll production, along with other nutrients. However, I want to make you aware of another very important function of sulfur that many do not know about, and why an available form of sulfate sulphur is so very vital to a plant’s life.

First, let’s think about the plant’s struggles that may occur, such as stress caused by cold soils/and or temperatures, by extremely wet conditions that saturate the soils and drive essential oxygen out, by the plant having trouble breaking down herbicides, or the by excess fertilizer salts. These “real” stresses can happen to our crops early on.

Did you know that stress on a seedling corn plant, which occurs before the growing point gets to the top of the ground, can reduce potential yield, mainly by reducing the number of kernel rows the ear will have? Did you know that early stress on a soybean plant can be the precursor to sudden death syndrome? Did you know that if plants, like animals, miss a certain period of growth at a certain time due to stress, they will always fail to reach their potential yield no matter how they are fed thereafter? So what does sulfur have to do with these early season stresses?

Plants cannot survive without a sulfur containing molecule called glutathione. Sulfate sulfur is needed to make glutathione in the plant, and the more stress put on a plant, the more glutathione the plant requires. Think of glutathione in the plant as white blood cells in the human body – it is necessary for the defense of a plant, and the more stressed a plant is then the more glutathione is needed. If the plant cannot get enough glutathione, then the plant is slow to recover, or may not recover at all.

If glutathione is needed in the plant, and it takes sulfate sulfur to make glutathione, then what does this tell us? First, elemental sulfur will not produce glutathione, so when applied early when stress is more likely, it doesn’t help the plant. And if we are waiting to put AMS down later as a topdress, we miss the sulfate sulfur needed to make glutathione for those earlier stresses.

What if we use a sulfate early on in preparing for these early stresses? Unless it has a calcium stabilizer like SUL4R-PLUS® fertilizer, it could very well leach out before it is needed to make glutathione. We need to consider our sulfur choices and understand if they can help make glutathione for our crop’s safety. If you know your sulfur choices, it should be an easy choice and SUL4R-PLUS fertilizer should win hands down!

SUL4R-PLUS® Products Boost Wheat Yields in Illinois vs. AMS, What Can They Do for Your Wheat Crop?

Numerous studies have shown that sulfur increases yield, improves grain quality, increases nitrogen uptake and efficiency and improves the overall health of the plant. In addition, adequate calcium and sulfur in the wheat help with stress during crucial growth stages of production. Sulfate is the plant food available form of sulfur found in our SUL4R-PLUS® fertilizer products.

A recent 2018 trial of SUL4R-PLUS products on wheat in Washington County, Illinois demonstrates the agronomic value of our innovative fertilizer products. 
In this wheat study, the farmer standard of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, was used on wheat with SUL4R-PLUS product applied as the sulfur source at the recommended rate of 100 lbs./acre.

2018 harvest brought strong results with yields averaging 10 bu/acre gain and an increase of 1 – 2 points on test weight versus the grower reported standard using AMS as the sulfur source.

SUL4R-PLUS fertilizer delivered 10+ bu/acre with 1 – 2 point improvement in test weigh on wheat in Illinois.


SUL4R-PLUS fertilizer delivered 10+ bu/acre with 1 – 2 point improvement in test weigh on wheat in Illinois.

Contact us at www.SUL4R-PLUS.com to see how the agronomic advantages and superior quality of SUL4R-PLUS® crop nutrient products can help improve your grower’s bottom line.
Follow us on twitter @sul4rplus and LinkedIn for up to date field trial results.

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SUL4R-PLUS® 2018 field trial results are now available for Soybeans, Corn, Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Potatoes and more.

Follow us on twitter @sul4rplus or LinkedIn for the latest updates!

SUL4R-PLUS® Products Deliver Significant Value on Cotton in Georgia, What Can They Do for Your Cotton Crop?

A recent trial of SUL4R-PLUS® products on cotton in Tifton County Georgia demonstrates the agronomic value of these innovative fertilizer products.

In Tifton – Loamy Sand soil, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer, applied at a rate of 100 lbs per acre, yielded .44 more bales per acre, or 220 lbs of lint per acre than the grower standard. At today’s pricing, this is an increase of $173.80 per acre to the grower’s top line.

 

In the same soil conditions, SUL4R-PLUS BORON fertilizer, applied at a rate of 100 lbs per acre, yielded .56 more bales per acre, or 280 more points of lint per acre than the grower standard. At today’s pricing, this is a top line increase of $221.20 per acre for the grower.

 

See the complete summary above of the results from this trial with all four SUL4R-PLUS products and contact us at www.sul4r-plus.com to see how the agronomic advantages and superior quality of SUL4R-PLUS® crop nutrient products can help improve your grower’s bottom line.

Soybean Struggles? SUL4R-PLUS® Products Deliver Significant Value on Soybeans in Indiana and Kentucky.

Recent 2018 trials of SUL4R-PLUS® products on corn in Northeast and Williamsburg, Indiana and Larue County, Kentucky demonstrate the agronomic value of these innovative fertilizer products.

In Northeast Indiana, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer, applied to soybeans at a rate of 100 lbs. per acre, yielded 12.4 more bushels per acre than the grower standard. At today’s pricing, this is an increase of $116.00 per acre to the grower’s top line and a 155-acre field average of 85.6 BU/AC.

In Williamsburg, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer, applied to soybeans at a rate of 100 lbs. per acre, yielded 4.4 more bushels per acre than the grower standard. At today’s pricing, this is an increase of $39.60 per acre to the grower’s top line. In addition, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer provided essential micronutrients Boron and Zinc to improve overall plant health and had superior spread to ensure even feeding.

And in Larue County, Kentucky, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer, applied to soybeans at a rate of 100 lbs. per acre, yielded 2.8 more bushels per acre than the grower standard. At today’s pricing, this is an increase of $25.20 per acre to the grower’s top line. In addition, SUL4R-PLUS® B+Z fertilizer improved overall plant health by providing essential micronutrients Boron and Zinc in one complete dry fertilizer application as opposed to two separate fertilizer applications, dry and foliar(liquid) indicated by Farmer Standard. One application of nutrients is not only a time saver, but a money saver. Tissue sampling on 8-23 at R6 (full reproductive) stage illustrated the importance of even timely feeding of micronutrients—demonstrated in yield and verified by tissue analysis.

See the complete summary above of the results of this trial with all four SUL4R-PLUS® products and contact us at www.sul4r-plus.com to see how the agronomic advantages and superior quality of SUL4R-PLUS® crop nutrient products can help improve your grower’s bottom line.