Agents experiment with applying fertilizer through poly pipe

row rice fertilizationjpgTwo LSU AgCenter extension agents experimented with applying fertilizer in poly pipe while irrigating row rice in 2019.

Dennis Burns, county agent in Tensas Parish, and R.L. Frazier, county agent in Madison Parish, worked with the concept.

Burns said the idea is to save on the expense of applying fertilizer.

“You have to water anyway, and you’re basically just flushing a field,” he said. “It just makes sense that we should be able to use that water as a delivery system.”

The three-year project is being done on research plots at the LSU AgCenter Northeast Research Station near St. Joseph.

“It’s still got a lot of potential if we can get our timing and method down,” Burns said. “We’re not confident enough to put it on a farmer’s field yet.”

Burns said a 1.2 gallon per hour pump was used to inject the fertilizer into the poly pipe.

“We were always shooting for 40 to 50 units of nitrogen,” he said.

He said the fertilizer was not distributed evenly across a field, and yields reflected that. The first time, he said, all the fertilizer was pumped at once. The second time, water was pumped onto the field before the fertilizer was applied.

“We learned a lot every time we did it,” Burns said.

Josh Copes, LSU AgCenter agronomist, and his staff conducted most of the data collection.

Burns said the work will continue in 2020 with the goal of uniform distribution of fertilizer. Rice will be drilled into a no-till seedbed where soybeans were grown in 2019. He said the plots next year will be planted differently.

“Planting at a slight angle allows for more consistent planting depth, and in our case on the research station, it gets us out of traveling in the same wheel tracks multiple times,” Burns said.

The irrigation and fertilizer application will be done in surges, he said. They will first let irrigation water saturate the soil. That should allow water with fertilizer to flow farther down the field. The fertilizer water will be released in surges, he said, instead of a continuous flow.

The practice has been used on other commodities, Burns said.

“It’s been done in Colorado on potatoes and other crops,” he said. “We’re just trying to make it work with rice.”

12/19/2019 8:58:21 PM
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