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Evaluation of Calcium Nitrate as an In-furrow Applied Starter For Cotton
D.D. Howard, M.E. Essington, and G.M. Lessman
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Increased acreage of no-tillage cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) has heightened interest in starter fertilizers. Crop residues and winter covers used to retard eroision also restrict water evaporation and reduce soil temperatures, which can reduce seed germination and plant vigor. Applying a small amount of fertilizer close to the seed may improve plant vigor and yields. Our research evaluated Ca(NO3)2 applied in-furrow for no-till cotton between 1994 and 1997 on a Loring silt loam (fine-silty, mixed, thermic, Typic Fragiudalf) and between 1994 and 1996 on a Collins silt loam (coarse-silty, mixed, acid, thermic Aquic Udifluvent). Winter covers included native vegetation on the Loring soil and winter wheat (Triticum asetivum L.) cover on the Collins soil. No-tillage production was used on all but the Collins soil in 1994. Total fertilizers applied, broadcast with or without starter, were 90, 20, and 56 kg ha-1 of N, P and K, respectively. The Ca(NO3)2 starter treatments of 17, 34, 68, and 102 L ha-1 were applied in-furrow to both soils. Additional starters applied to the Loring soil included ammonium polyphosphate (11-37-0) applied either in-furrow at 14 L ha-1 or surface-banded at 70 L ha-1. In-furrow Ca(NO3)2 applications increased cotton yields 14 to 16% on the Loring soil and 6 to 8% on the Collins soil. The 11-37-0 applications increased the Loring soil yields 16 and 21% from in-furrow and surface-banding, respectively. A wide in-furrow application range (17 to 68 L ha-1) of Ca(NO3)2 increased cotton yields.