Web-based program to generate MSU fertilizer recommendations
Use the MSU Fertilizer Recommendation Program to compare the fertilizer recommendations from your service provider with that of Michigan State University.
Michigan State University Extension promotes soil testing as a best management practice to determine fertilizer requirements of crops. Soil scientists have formulated MSU fertilizer recommendations following many years of field research and taking into consideration the economic, agronomic and environmental implications for Michigan. In addition to the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory, there are several private soil testing laboratories and fertilizer or pesticide dealerships that offer this valuable service to Michigan growers. Some organizations offer their own fertilizer recommendations based on their test. While acknowledging that no two fertilizer recommendations from two different organizations are exactly alike, in a vast majority of cases the figures fall in an acceptable range.
Every year, however, farmers bring to our attention some instances where the fertilizer recommendation offered by an outside agency does not make sense and is out of the ordinary. In most cases, these recommendations call for higher rates of a single nutrient or a group of nutrients compared to MSU. In other cases, unnecessary micronutrients are recommended. Sometimes these recommendations contradict widely accepted principles of nutrient management adapted by MSU and other land-grant colleges.
If you encounter such a situation with your soil test, there are few things you can do to double check. Sometimes discrepancies can be traced to incorrect information submitted with the sample. Are the yield goal and previous crop correct? With the MSU Fertilizer Recommendation Program web-based tool, you can plug in the soil test results from your provider and generate a corresponding MSU recommendation. Simply visit the MSU Fertilizer Recommendation Program and start entering the nutrient analysis data provided by your provider. Use the drop-down menu to enter the current crop and insert the yield goal. Also, choose the right units for nutrients, for example “lb/A” or “ppm.” Finally, click on the “Calculate Recommendations” to generate a report. If there are footnotes, click the “Footnotes Explanation” link. If you notice big discrepancies in the two recommendations, then you should consult your service provider, especially if some money can be saved on fertilizer.
The Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) Crop A Syst program may be useful for some farmers as well because Crop A Syst mandates the use of MSU nutrient management recommendations. You can still retain your service provider for soil testing, but instead use the data and the online program to generate the MSU recommendations.