Seed World

Seeds in the Ground? Time to Side-Dress 

VP of Ag Science,
Heliae® Agriculture

Dr. Cassidy Million serves as the VP of Ag Science, where she champions industry outreach, agronomy trials and product training for the company’s portfolio of microalgae solutions: PhycoTerra®. Dr. Million has served the industry in plant nutrition and soil product research and the USDA as a plant pathologist. Million earned both her master’s and doctorate in plant pathology and phytopathology from The Ohio State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in plant science from Indiana University Southeast.

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Are your seedlings struggling through a soggy spring? Maybe your plants aren’t performing as you expected, or maybe you’d like to hedge your bets on a successful harvest.

Regardless – most growers don’t leave yields up to chance– and this is why so many are fond of side-dress applications. Traditionally, a side-dress application provides young crops with a nutritional boost. Yet, if you pair your fertilizer with the right soil microbial food and build your soil health, supporting your yield potential for years to come.

Does my crop need a side-dress application?

A side-dress application is a fertilizer or soil amendment applied between rows of crops, which adds extra nutrients close to the root zones. This is ideal for supporting crops and maximizing yield potential in healthier crops. 

Before applying a side-dress application, consider the nutrient levels in your soil which are based on your soil’s organic matter content, pH levels, previous fertilizer application, and field history. The abundance, activity and diversity of beneficial microbes also impact nutrient availability. 

Timing can also determine if your fields could benefit from a side-dress application. As your crops grow, their need for nitrogen increases, making a side-dressing application a timely boost of nutrition. If you apply too early, your fertilizer could leach in heavy rains or excessive moisture. In dry conditions with not enough moisture may lead to volatilization of nitrogen. 

How can I make the most of my side-dress application?

A fertilizer application or soil amendment can have a positive impact on your yield potential. By pairing your fertilizer application with a carbon-rich microbial food you can support beneficial microbes in the rhizosphere and can make the most of your nutrient application and improve yield potential and soil health.

75% of beneficial microbes in your soil are either dormant or inactive due to starvation. They need a balanced meal to build your soil health and support your crops. Once active, these beneficial microbes improve soil aggregatesincrease water holding capacity and support crop resilience during mid to late season abiotic stress. 

Microbes also optimize NPK availability – making the most of your side-dress fertilizer application by increasing your fertilizer use efficiency. Today, supporting soil microbes is a new, innovative practice that builds soil health and improves a grower’s return on investment. 

Don’t Let Your Microbes Fed for Themselves in Your Fields

A side-dress application is a way for a grower to hedge their bets on this year’s crops. By supporting beneficial microbes in the rhizosphere, you can support this year’s harvest, and harvests for years to come. 

As you make a side-dress plan, look into a soil microbe food with the following characteristics:

  1. A long shelf life
  2. Exceptional compatibility with the other products in your application
  3. A well-balanced meal 

Just like your crops, there’s no reason to leave your microbes to fend for themselves in your fields.