ISSUE 3 May 15, 2003
BEWARE OF FERTILIZER HUCKSTERS
The North Dakota Department of Agriculture tries to limit the activity of questionable products through the state fertilizer registration laws. However, over the past year, some companies have attempted, and some apparently have succeeded an "end-around" the law. To be registered in the state, the product must show a guaranteed analysis on their label of major fertilizer nutrient content, and the analysis of the product must live up to the guarantee within certain limits. That way, an end-user knows that if a product advertises 10-10-10, that it truly does have that concentration of N-P-K in their application. Products that advertise "biological activator", "soil conditioner", "works like conventional products at a fraction of the rate" and other nearly magical claims need to have some local independent research-based data to support those claims.
Recently, some companies have conveniently forgotten to include their sales claims in their registration packet and only submitted the name and guaranteed analysis. Some of these products have been registered, so the buyer needs to be especially aware of sales pitches that sound too good to be true.
In evaluating a product, I suggest the following:
1. Understand that a North Dakota fertilizer registration is not an endorsement of the product. At base level, all it means are that the ingredients labeled have been found in the product.
2. Be extremely skeptical of any product that claims the following:
If any company that sends up red flags is marketing a product in your neighborhood, please send me a copy. I am the North Dakota representative on the North Central Region committee on non-conventional amendments and additives. We share information, including independent research on these kinds of products and have evaluations of many evaluated products available in various publications.
TOPDRESSED NITROGEN, FUNGICIDES AND HERBICIDES?
It is a very bad idea to combine top-dressed N with fungicides and herbicides. For one thing, top-dressed liquid N would be best applied with streamer bars (see figure). Fungicides and herbicides need to be broadcast applied according to the label. Broadcasting liquid N will probably result in leaf burn/necrosis of tissues of the crops and the weeds. The result will be a horrible looking mess, and inadequate coverage of crop and weeds with the materials that are supposed to be providing leaf protection or weed control. The two systems were designed to be separate, so keep them separate. I understand the time crunch. Itís one of several reasons why I was not excited about top-dressing as a main N fertilization strategy this winter. But the supplemental N is needed for some crops where rates were low coming out of last years drought, and top-dressing is the best answer to a shortage of N now. But keep the applications separate!
Streamer bars are attachments that attach to existing spray booms in a "T" configuration. Available in varying intervals of liquid stream release from manufacturers. Liquid it therefore applied in a surface band. Rainfall must wash the N into the soil for it to effective. (Photo from Manitoba Ag website).
NDSU Extension Soil Specialist