Producers follow fertilizer recommendations in one or two pass operations. They’re diligent about keeping high rates of nitrogen away from the seed row

Keep the phosphorous with the seed and either broadcast or band nitrogen away from the seed row. That’s how producers contacted for this month’s farmer panel handle their fertilizer placement.

None of the four Prairie farmers contacted at random apply a dual blend of phosphorous and nitrogen in a band separate from the seed row (as suggested in the article on page 6.) Nitrogen may be broadcast applied, injected as either a liquid or as anhydrous ammonia, or simply banded beside the seed row. And the phosphorous, ranging from 15 to 30 pounds per acre, depending on soil test recommendations, goes on with the seed.

Many of the fertilizer placement options depend on the form of nitrogen being used and type of seeding system producers have on the farm. Garth Massie, who farms with family members near Biggar, Sask., already knows some of the features he would like in his next seeding system. And Jason Saunders of Taber, Alta., says if money was unlimited, he’d have a separate seeding system for every dryland crop he grows. Since he doesn’t see that situation developing in the near future, he’s happy with his Flexi-coil.

Here is how this month’s farmer panel described their approach to fertilizer placement:


Although soil test recommendations vary, Mills Anderson aims to apply about 80 pounds of actual nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia to all crops on his Peace River region grain and oilseed farm.

Phosphate, which is usually about 25 pounds of P205 per acre, is applied in the seed row with his Flexi-coil air seeding system.

“I’m scaling back, so I’m not cropping as many acres as I used to,” says Anderson. “But if the weather and harvest co-operates, I like to get the anhydrous applied in the fall. It is injected about four to five inches deep so by the time spring comes around there is no risk of crop injury due to nitrogen concentration. Even when we apply it in the spring just ahead of seeding, there doesn’t seem to be any problem.”

Anderson is cropping about 650 acres of grains and oilseeds this coming year. He’ll apply about 25 pounds per acre of phosphorous with the seed, on nine inch row spacing, with the seed and phosphorous distributed over a two-inch wide band. When seeding canola he usually adds about 20 pounds of sulphur to the seed row.

One change he is making to the older Flexi-coil air seeder this winter is adding a set of on-row packer wheels. He’s taking the packer wheels from an old International 7200 press drill and adapting them to the Flexi-coil.

“Up until now, we’ve just been using a harrow behind the air seeder,” he says. “The packer wheels will improve seed to soil contact and also without packing between the rows there should be fewer weeds.”


Jason Saunders applies phosphorous and five to 10 pounds of starter nitrogen with the seed, as he plants his 3,400 dryland acres of grains, oilseeds and pulse crops each year.

The amount of phosphorous depends on the soil test recommendation and can range from 15 to 30 pounds of actual product, says the Southern Alberta producer.

Using a one-pass seeding system, the Flexi-coil air drill bands nitrogen about two inches away from the seed row. “Again, depending on the soil test recommendation, I sideband 50 to 60 pounds and up of nitrogen for the cereals and oilseeds,” says Saunders. “I don’t put any nitrogen with the pulse crops and also if we have a drought year the amount of nitrogen is less, too.”


With an older single shoot seeding system, Garth Massie, who farms with family members south of Biggar, Sask., says he puts about 15 pounds of actual phosphorous with the seed, and broadcast applies nitrogen and other nutrients ahead of the seeding operation.

Massie, who farms with his father and two brothers and their respective families, follows a rotation that includes wheat, durum, malt barley, canola, red lentils and yellow peas.

He uses a spin spreader to apply 50 pounds of actual nitrogen and often about 10 pounds of sulphur to fields just before seeding. The seeding operation incorporates the fertilizer, and also places seed and phosphorous in a three-inch wide band on 10-inch row spacing.

“The direct seeding system we have works, but when it does come time to change systems, I’d like something like a Morris Contour Drill,” says Massie. “We have a lot of hills in this area and I would like something that follows the contour of the land better with more accurate seed placement.” (Editor’s note: Garth Massie works for Morris.)

He’s also interested in a one-pass seeding system that has a paired row, double shoot opener. That system splits the seed row in two, creating two seed rows four inches apart with fertilizer banded between the paired row and three-quarters of an inch below.


With winter wheat often in the rotation, Brad Day usually does a

handle on how well the crop over wintered. Day, who crops about 3,000 acres of wheat

and canola and sometimes flax and barley, usually includes about 640 acres of winter wheat in rotation. He seeds winter wheat with a Bourgault 8810

air seeding system, outfitted with a 5350 tank. With shanks on 10-inch centres, the air seeder has a mid-row banding system that places fertilizer between eachseed row and about one inch below. Although rates can vary depending on soil test

recommendations, he usually puts about 80 pounds of 11-51-0 starter fertilizer ( phosphorous with abitof nitrogen) in theseed row, while the 60 pounds of actual nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia is placed in the mid-row band. “ In early spring, once wecan see

howwell the winter wheat has over wintered, then we can go in and top up with about 50 pounds of nitrogen ( 46-0-0) applied with a spin spreader,”hesays.“ With GPS technology today you don’t have toworry about missing areas of the field, and by applying it ourselves we can save $ 4 to $ 5 per acre in applicationcosts.” Day saysthe target is to get a

total of about 100 pounds of nitrogen on the wheat crop. Spring wheat is usually seeded about the third

week of May, again with 70 to 80 pounds of actual nitrogen in the form of anhydrous ammonia mid-row banded, and 30 to 40 pounds ofphosphorous placed with the seed. Depending on the year, he’ll seed between 640

and 1,200 acres of hybrid canola. He grows either InVigor or Roundup Ready varieties, seeded at a rate of 4.5 to five pounds per acre. In the one pass seeding operation, about 80 pounds of actual nitrogen is mid-row banded, with about 30 pounds of phosphorous and usually eight to 10 pounds of sulphur included in the seed row. “ When we growth these hybrid varieties with

higheryield potential, you have to provide the nutrient package to maximize the yield potential,” he says. Lee Hart is field editor of Grainews, based

in Calgary. Contact him at 403-592-1964 or by email at [email protected] CONTINUED FROM Previous PAGE Fertilizer“

About the author

Field Editor

Lee Hart

Lee Hart is editor of Cattleman’s Corner based in Calgary.



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