“We were bone-dry here this spring,” says Mitch Poiron, marketing representative for Nutrien in Manitoba. “We were dusty at the beginning of April. Between frost, drought and a poor seedbed for our crops, a lot of people struggled with canola establishment this year.”
All fertilizers need some moisture to dissolve, so seeding into dry conditions isn’t necessarily a problem as long as some rain eventually falls. But when it doesn’t, seed safety becomes a bigger concern.
“When you apply fertilizer and it stays dry, that fertilizer band stays very tight,” says Poiron. “If a seed is close to that fertilizer band, there’s a lot of potential for seed burn damage.”
Because some fertilizers can be high in salts, they can burn seed if left too close for too long. But for growers who tried Nutrien’s Smart Nutrition™ MAP+MST® this year, seed safety was perhaps the least of their worries.
That’s because Smart Nutrition MAP+MST, a new granular sulphur and phosphate fertilizer, has a much lower salt index than other more traditional ammonium sulphate and phosphorus products, so it’s much safer on seed.
Poiron says the low salt index isn’t the only thing Smart Nutrition MAP+MST has to offer for farmers. The others are high nutrient density and the two-in-one nature of the product.
With Smart Nutrition MAP+MST, growers can apply phosphorus and sulphur in one pass, unlike ammonium sulphate, which is bulky and needs to be placed away from your seed,” says Poiron. “It’s also very nutrient-dense for greater efficiency, so growers need less total pounds of fertilizer to reach desired fertility rates.”
First year in the field
The 2021 growing season was the first full sales season for Smart Nutrition MAP+MST, so the spring drought felt across much of the Prairies was a big test right out of the gate and Poiron has been impressed with how it has been received and how it performed in fields.
“Farmers and retails have embraced it,” he says. “It’s been a great tool for agronomists who say they finally have a solution for a problem they saw coming, which was drought. The seed safety and ability to place a higher density of nutrients was something they wanted.”
For Poiron, the technology and research behind Smart Nutrition MAP+MST is key.
“The entire focus for me is that it has to be useful and practical for a farmer, and it has to be backed up with science,” he says.
The science behind Smart Nutrition MAP+MST is a patented process called Micronized Sulphur Technology (MST), which micronizes elemental sulphur into tiny particles for quicker oxidation and earlier plant availability compared to other elemental sulphur sources. MST is integrated directly into the mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) manufacturing process to create a granular fertilizer product with consistent sulphur distribution in each granule.
The result is a slow-release fertilizer that provides crop-available sulphur throughout the growing season. When the rains eventually come, nutrients are still there for the crop to use.
“So if you have a product that helps makes that range of error less in terms of seed placement, that can increase your efficiency and is easy to apply, then it is highly practical for farmers,” Poiron says.
The proof was in the fields. “We had a successful year in Canada,” he says. “Smart Nutrition MAP+MST differentiated us with good seed safety in drought conditions, good crop establishment, and generally a good experience by growers.”