Two years ago, the National Corn Growers Association yield contest winner produced more than 500 bushels per acre. He applied starter fertilizer on both sides of the row. Other people were already looking at the concept. As he traveled the country, he discussed the concept. It added fuel to an idea whose time may have come.
The concept is simple. Instead of a 2-by-2-inch placement for starter fertilizer, placing fertilizer on just one side of the row, the idea is to split up the application and put half on one side and half on the other. The result is a 2-by-2-by-2-inch placement.
Beck’s included a 2-by-2-by-2 trial in its Practical Farm Research studies at multiple locations in 2017. At Indiana, Ohio and Iowa PFR centers, researchers applied two different rates of liquid nitrogen with the Martin-Till UMO 2-by-2-by-2 application equipment. In Kentucky and at two PFR locations in Illinois, they ran the same trial using Yetter Dual 2968 Series units.
In both situations, the highest yield and highest return on dollars invested came when they applied 60 units of nitrogen per acre as starter on both sides of the row. Compared to the control, which was 30 units of liquid nitrogen in a 2-by-2 standard placement, 60 units of UAN in 2-by-2-by-2 averaged 9.9 bushels per acre more in the Indiana, Ohio and Iowa test, and 9.5 bushels per acre more in the Kentucky and Illinois test. Extra return on investment for the 60-unit rate in 2-by-2-by-2 vs. 30 pounds of UAN in 2-by-2 was $25.01 per acre in the first trial and $23.47 per acre in the second.
To compare apples to apples, here’s how 2-by-2-by-2 performed vs. 2-by-2 when 30 units of nitrogen were applied in both cases. In the first trial, net return on investment was $23.55 per acre more than the control. In the second, the average increase was $21.62 per acre.
“A 2-by-2-by-2 system gives us a great opportunity to supply more nitrogen early in the season on both sides of the root zone,” says Steve Gauck, a Beck’s sales agronomist based near Greensburg, Ind. He reviewed the study.
“In cool, wet springs, we see an advantage to having extra nitrogen upfront to offset any loss or lack of mineralization from the soil,” he says. “The 2-by-2-by-2 system gives us more options moving forward by reducing the salt load in the root zone. It appears that placement does in fact matter!”
Gauck notes that extra nitrogen was likely particularly helpful in 2017 because in most areas, it was cool and wet early.
Other companies are developing equipment for 2-by-2-by-2 placement off the planter. 360 Yield Center introduced a product for 2018 (pictured above).