Farmers typically use starter in a liquid form to increase plant growth early in the season with the intentions of increasing yields. In western Minnesota, corn growers may use starter as a way to apply nutrients in a band on calcareous soils, which have the potential to tie up nutrients. Band applications are typically thought to be superior in these cases.
The major drawback to starter fertilizer is the cost per pound of nutrient is typically greater than forms used for broadcast application, so the cost of its use is more problematic. Research work in Iowa has shown that the use of starter with broadcast fertilizer would likely not increase profitability. However, this work did not focus on soils or landscapes with areas where phosphorus fixation may be a problem. Strip trials may be beneficial to determine if starter is needed in some fields and if so, what the optimum rate is.
Since starter fertilizer is prevalent in Minnesota, we need to provide corn growers with information as the appropriate rate of application for their particular soils. If starter is not required, a corn producer could save money to invest in other management that may provide a better return on investment. This study will focus on rates of 10-34-0 applied in-furrow with the planter when fertilizer phosphorus (P) is and is not applied.