Manage Nutrients with Fertilizer Banding

Growers are always looking for ways to improve farm profits, even more so in a down commodity market. One opportunity to achieve better margins is incorporation of fertilizer banding into nutrient management programs.

Banding nutrients allows producers to variably apply nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, blending the right source at the right rate in the right place, at the right time. These are the four R’s of nutrient management that improve farm profitability and promote environmental stewardship.

  1. Improve Farm Profitability

  2. Reduce Nutrient Losses

  3. Improve Nutrient Use Efficiency

  4. Increase Yield

  5. Reduce Nutrient Stratification

Banding Fertilizer: Single Disk Drill 6/24” Spacing and Cart

Banding Fertilizer: Single Disk Drill 6/24” Spacing and Cart

Why Banding?
Banding concentrates fertilizer in the root zone. This is beneficial in several ways.

Some soils depending on soil texture and organic matter levels, may capture a portion of applied nutrients making them unavailable to plants. The ability for soils to capture and hold nutrients is measured by cation exchange capacity or CEC. When fertilizer is banded in the soil, the nutrients come into contact with less soil than if they had been broadcast and incorporated. University soil fertility guidelines prescribe reduced rates when banding for this reason. Some recommend up to 50% less when banding compared to broadcasting. Keep in mind that even when banding, it is important to apply crop removal rates to avoid mining soils.

Banding nutrients may provide a starter effect. Concentrating nutrients under the row allows better early season root interception and uptake leading to increased growth and vigor.

Banding fertilizer reduces environmental losses compared to surface applied broadcast applications. Rainfall after fertilizer has been broadcast applied may result in losses depending on severity of rain event and cropping system. Banding protects fertilizer from losses due to runoff.

It has been proven that in pure no-till systems, nutrient stratification occurs over time with continued broadcast applications. Stratification occurs because nutrients are continually broadcast on the surface while roots mine nutrients from deeper soil layers. Since most nutrients move via mass flow or root interception, it is difficult for the plant to access nutrients stratified in the top inch or two of soil, especially in dry years. Banding nutrients in the root zone addresses this issue and alleviates stratification.

Economic Review:

Equipment: Many growers already have the tools required to band nutrients. If a grower has an air cart and a drill or tillage tool, it is fairly easy to setup. Make sure the air cart being used for fertilizer incorporates stainless steel components to reduce corrosion. Some air carts are better suited to seed due to less than ideal corrosion protection.

Variable Rate: Air carts are set up to apply variable rate fertilizer. Many growers are finding that it is possible to boost yields while reducing cost by more accurately placing nutrients where they are needed in the field.

Crop yields can be maximized with the appropriate nutrient plan that places the right amount of nutrients in close proximity to the plant.

AMITY “New Equipment” Solutions:

The current Amity Single Disc Dills setup in a 6/24” (soybean special) configuration, paired with an AMITY 3800 or 5250 Air Cart provide the opportunity to band fertilizer in the fall and seed soybeans for the grower in the spring.

The AMITY 3800 or 5250 Air Carts with their stainless steel tank and meter construction provide a great value for farmers looking to save a pass by incorporating fertilizer with a current tillage tool or through a bander during planting.

The new 30’ NT Single Disc Drill is the perfect multi-use tool that can be used to incorporate fertilizer as well as seed small grains and soybeans. This allows farmers to have a single tool that can cover 100% of their acres each year and provide at quicker return on investment.


Banding nutrients is a good way to practice the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship which include the right sources, the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place.


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