Monitor sulfur status of forages

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Editor's Note: The following information is an excerpt from an article written by Ev Thomas in the November 2012 Miner Institute Farm Report.

It’s time to get serious about the use of sulfur in forage fertilizer programs. That’s because government efforts at reducing air pollution have resulted in removing much of this essential nutrient from precipitation. That’s good for air quality, but not for the sulfur status of cropland. A generation ago there was so much sulfur in precipitation that acid rain was big news and some Adirondack and New England lakes were reported to be “dying”.

We don’t hear much about acid rain now because the amount of sulfur in precipitation is a fraction of what it used to be. Between 1985 and 2008, sulfate depositions in much of the Northeast decreased by over half and are now under 10 lbs/acre, which is less than crop removal for many crops and particularly for alfalfa. Four tons of alfalfa per acre removes about 20 lbs of sulfur, much more than is now contained in annual precipitation. Corn harvested for silage removes about one pound of sulfur per ton of silage.

This coming crop season you should be on the lookout for light green (chlorotic) areas in your alfalfa fields...

For more information, read “Getting Serious About Sulfur” in the November 2012 Miner Farm Report.



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