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Issue No. 3, Article 11/April 10, 2009

Sulfur Research: Call for Volunteers

Volunteers are needed throughout Illinois who would like to participate in on-farm research to measure corn response to sulfur applications. While not widespread, the frequency of sulfur deficiency in corn has increased over the years since it was first seen in Illinois more than three decades ago. This increase is likely the result of several factors, including less use of sulfur-containing fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides; less atmospheric sulfur deposition; greater removal rates by increasing grain yields; increased use of conservation tillage, which may reduce sulfur availability; and fewer livestock operations, causing less application of manure.

Soil conditions. We are especially interested in light-colored soils (less than 2% organic matter, coarse texture, or both), but we would like to characterize sulfur response across the state, so we will consider other soils as well. Fields that have received manure or sulfur applications within the last 5 years will not be considered.

Equipment, sulfur sources, and time of application. Volunteers conducting these trials will follow a simple design applying 0 and 50 lb S/acre as a broadcast application. The rates will be applied in three different reps for a total of 6 strips. The strips will need to be georeferenced using GPS. Strips can be anywhere from 8 to 16 rows wide by 300 to 1,000 feet long. What is important is that the size of the strip allow accurate application of the rate and that the yields can be collected from the center portion of the strip (have border rows on each side).

Sulfur will be limited to one of three sources:

  • ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 (21-0-0-24)
  • MicroEssentials sulfur ME S15 (13-33-0-15)
  • elemental sulfur (0-0-0-90)

If the sulfur source contains other accompanying nutrients, the corresponding rates of those nutrients will need to be applied to other treatment strips to avoid a differential response to nutrients other than sulfur.

Volunteers will not be required to take plant or soil samples, but they need to allow the researcher to visit the strips approximately three times during the growing season.

If you are interested in participating, please contact me at fernande@illinois.edu or 217-333-4426.--Fabián Fernández

Fabián Fernández

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