Are You Using a Nitrogen Stabilizer That Works?

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Hello Everyone and over the next few weeks we are going to be sharing research from Top End Farming from two years of research at their farm in Northern Illinois.  They studied tons of different products and had dozens and dozens of replications with a big emphasis on micro-nutrients. 2018 was a year full of changes and weather challenges but it was a great learning experience. Dan from Top End Farming used a 4 row plot planter. They experienced heavy rains all year which challenged everything from emergence to making timely spray passes. Having wet feet all year certainly knocked a lot of the Top End yield potential out, but it also provided a great learning opportunity for us all.  The studies on starter formulations were eye opening and so were the nitrogen studies. More N isn’t always the answer to yellow corn. 😉

Dan pulled soil tests in the fall of 2017 to see what was needed and at what rates. Nitrogen was sprayed on behind the planter at a rate of 60gal of 32% unless otherwise noted. Mid-season the entire plot was Y-dropped with 10gal. 32% and 5gal. of ATS.

While Dan strives to maintain this as an independent plot, we are indeed distributors with Conklin and we firmly believe you will not find a higher quality product anywhere. Conklin also provides top end knowledge sharing.

Everything we do is based off of specific soil tests, field by field.  So, we’re not throwing blind darts at the wall wasting ANY money. This is why we highly recommend everyone uses MidWest Labs from Omaha, NE to run independent soil tests. We look forward to sharing results with you over the next few weeks!

First up, the Nitrogen study.  It was conducted using three different rates of 32% and two different stabilizers. 40, 50, and 60 gallon rates were used stand alone and with Instinct and Guardian.

Instinct has an active ingredient of nitrapyrin.  It is a popular stabilizer but comes with a down side of causing corrosion and destroying soil bacteria.

Guardian has an active ingredient of dicyandiamide.  It is non-corrosive to your equipment and doesn’t kill valuable soil bacteria.


  • Plot #34: 40 gallon 32%UAN and 1.5qt Guardian yielded 217.34bpa
  • Plot #35: 40gallon 32%UAN and 24oz. of Instinct yielded 212.65bpa

Guardian out yielded competitor by 4.69 BPA

  • Plot #36: 40 Gallon 32%UAN yielded 213bpa
  • Plot #37: 50 Gallon 32%UAN yielded 208.12bpa

Guardian out yielded competitor by 4.88 BPA

  • Plot #38: 50 Gallon 32%UAN and 24oz. of Instinct yielded 235.01bpa
  • Plot #39: 50 Gallon 32%UAN and 1.5qt Guardian yielded 279.72bpa

Guardian out yielded competitor by 44.71 BPA

  • Plot #40: 60 Gallon 32%UAN and 1.5qt of Guardian yielded 276.28bpa
  • Plot #41: 60 Gallon 32%UAN and 24oz. of Instinct yielded 265.43bpa
  • Plot #42: 60 Gallon 32%UAN yielded 250.27bpa

Guardian out yielded competitor by 10.85

Cost of both stabilizers is $9/acre

N Stabilizer

Please note: at the beginning of the 2018 season Dan approached several other local retailers in his area and offered his soil test and some strips in the plot to see how their products would compare they all admittedly refused to take part and therefore the few competitive products in the trials were obtained from their customers.

Triticale, Cotton, Sugar Beets and Wheat OH MY!

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Good afternoon guys, Rod here at A Better Way to Farm, happy Friday. Today’s blog post is for those of you who farm something other than Corn & Beans. We will focus specifically Triticale, Cotton, Sugar Beets and Wheat.  We talk a lot about corn and soybeans because that’s our fastball, that’s the thing we work in the most.  We also spend quite a bit of time doing hay, and also have good experience consulting on milo. A big shout out to my brother, Charles, who has won the state of Iowa in the sorghum growers contest the past 3 years.

We have systems that work really good with corn, beans, and milo. But, there’s about 150 crops that we can make specific recommendations for. If you grow Triticale, we can help. You want grow great cotton, our soil test system will make specific recommendations for that cotton. Regardless of it’s two bail on dry land or much higher on irrigated. We can help.  Our system also works really well in sugar beets. With high dollar crops it’s really important we get things working correctly.  We’ve also seen tremendous results in wheat.  Several years ago a friend and client of ours in Oklahoma accidentally forgot to turn the starter pump on in his wheat field for one pass.  He had a 17 bushel to the acre decrease where no starter was used.

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Regardless of where you are, whether you’re in the great northwest and growing wheat. Or you’re growing the sugar beets or barley or vegetables. We’ve got a system that can help you. It’s a system based on science. It’s a system based on pulling soil test. A system based on getting specific recommendations field by field. So many people are trying to figure out what to do after they pull their test because they get back the norms and they get their levels but they don’t know what to do with the result. Our system makes recommendations, tells us exactly what to do to get the highest possible yield for your plant.

If you’d like to schedule a time for us to talk and see if we could serve you don’t hesitate to reach out.

5 Reason Why Your Starter Fertilizer Didn’t Work

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Happy Snowy Sunday from Iowa.  This afternoon we want to talk about starter fertilizer.  Specifically, those of you who tried it once and weren’t satisfied.  Today we’re going talk about 5 reasons why “it didn’t work”.

Option 1) You actually used a really good starter fertilizer (it was orthophosphate) and it worked exactly like it was supposed to.  It got a lot of Phosphorous in the plant. So, what could the problem be?  You already had high Phosphorus levels and maybe you already were a little bit low on zinc. This created a problem.  When you shoved that extra Phosphorus into the plant, it created an imbalance and cut your yields. If you’re wondering if that’s possible the answer is without a doubt YES! We have seen it happen. That’s why we recommend a full system and based off of a soil test. We can’t just throw darts at a board.

Option 2) Low quality fertilizer. Once upon a time there used to be a tractor called an Allis Chalmers XT 190. And the XT 190 was actually not a really great tractor because the rear end on it was fundamentally about the same rear end they used in a WD. Therefore, if you bought an Allis Chalmers XT 190, and it blew up, it gave you a lot of trouble. Did that mean that all tractors were terrible? Did that mean that tractors don’t work? No. It meant that we bought the wrong tractor. If we buy starter fertilizer and it doesn’t work, does that mean that all starter fertilizer doesn’t work? Absolutely not. It meant we bought the wrong starter fertilizer.

Option 3) A polyphosphate starter. This starter fertilizer takes a really long time to break down.  Therefore, we don’t get the Phosphorous in the plant like we need. (Even if we apply the right amount of Zinc.)

Option 4) The cost cutter.  Maybe you were told you could save a little money by using some potassium chloride instead of using potassium hydroxide.  Why does this cut yields and profit?  The salt index goes up, the germination goes down, and the bottom line is we are probably losing between  4-000 – 8,000 plants per acre when we do that.  Which makes us lose yield.  On the surface it looks like starter fertilizer didn’t work but in reality we just made a costly choice in an effort to save money.

Option 5) The starter fertilizer wasn’t pure.  Maybe it had phosacid with things like cadmium (a known carcinogen)  Other things that are common in impure starter is mercury and lead. Cadmium (and other heavy metals) in our fertilizer should be non-detectable. If you run a fertilizer analysis that shows any cadmium at all then you’re hurting seed germination bad!  The range in severity runs from destroying the germ (& possibly killing the plants,) to at the very least delaying the germination by several days.  In addition it disrupts cell division, making cell walls implode and they’re not dividing and dividing and growing, slowing down early plant growth. This puts the plant at a HUGE disadvantage from the very beginning and puts the plant way behind.


Here are just 5 of the reason starter might not of preformed like it should have.  If you’d like to learn more about what starter provides a positive yield increase as well as return on investment then let’s chat.   If you have a question about starter fertilizer, something you’re not sure of, if you’re thinking “Hey, what happened here?” Or “What do you think about this?” We’re happy to provide you much needed answers to the best of our abilities. Simply comment here and we will be happy to help!

We appreciate you guys reading this and if it provided you value it would be an honor if you would share it with your friends & family.