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Fertilizer in Furrow: UGA Extension Advises Farmers Against Practice

Clint Thompson Georgia, Peanuts

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Image credit: South Georgia Farming

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension peanut agronomist Scott Monfort didn’t recommend applying fertilizers in furrow before his research last year. He certainly doesn’t recommend it now.

Peanut producers are a couple of weeks away from planting this year’s crop. Monfort cautions farmers against the myth that applying fertilizers in furrow yields positive results.

What’s the Point?

There’s no upside to it. It doesn’t enhance yields. It does more harm than good. That’s the message Monfort is preaching this spring.

“The industry seems to think it’s not causing a problem. We’ve always said it has, but we didn’t have any good data to back it up. We’ve documented it in the field when we saw problems, but not actual research trials, at least I hadn’t in a long time,” said Monfort.

That changed last year. Monfort’s research trials in the greenhouse with a bare ground floor; same soil and same setup used in the field yielded the expected results.

“Just like we had been saying all this time, we’re seeing a decrease in germination and emergence when you put a fertilizer in furrow,” Monfort said. “Fertilizers are normally acidic or salty. It’s burning the skins of the peanut or causing some kind of damage to the seed. If it’s bad enough, it causes the seed to be non-viable. If it’s not extremely bad, then what it does, it just slows down the growth for some reason, in that initial growth.”

Monfort said the problem is not attributed to just one specific fertilizer. Multiple fertilizers are to blame for a problem that is easily avoidable.

“When you absorb that much of that fertilizer directly into the seed, it’s a problem. That’s why we don’t like anything like that going in furrow. This just proves exactly what we said. This is why we don’t recommend it,” he added.

Increase in Usage

Monfort has seen a significant increase in people using this tactic over the previous years. Fertilizer dealers are suggesting to the farmers that it works when it really doesn’t.

“The only reason we figured it out was we had some complaint calls that I went out on, germ complaint calls, they were saying that the seed was bad. It turned out that one or two farmers had stopped up tubes in their planter, and the rows that didn’t get anything in furrow, everything came up, germinated and emerged,” Monfort said. “Right now we’re not seeing any benefit in putting it out.

“More growers need to think about this before they do it.”