The first few days of a plant's life determine a lot about how that plant will grow and what it will produce. Using a starter fertilizer provides an available source of nutrients right at the root zone of the fragile seedling. Starter fertilizers provide the nutrients when the soil is too cold to provide the source because soil microbes aren't active until the soil warms up.
But not all starter fertilizers are created equal. In fact, there is a great deal of variability between one and the next due to its format (dry or liquid), its content, and how and when it is applied. There are many factors that determine the effectivness of your starter fertilizer the start that your plants get.
Phosphorus is critical for early root growth. It is notoriously immobile in the soil and requires adequate moisture, temperature, and microbial activity to become available for plants. Early spring and late fall plantings often benefit from plant available phosphorus due to cold temperatures and wet soils. Phosphorus stimulates vigorous root growth and is frequently responsible for the "pop-up" effect of starter fertilizers.
Starters can be banded beside the seed, as is the case with dry starters, or placed directly on top of the seed. Liquid starters with a low urea content and a relatively low salt index can be placed right on the seed. Liquid starters provide an even distribution of fertilizer throughout the field and can easily be amended to address specific shortages.
Using a starter fertilizer not only provides an opportunity to provide your young growing crop the nutrition it needs, but also gives you the chance to gain an extra edge by stimulating soil biology. Consider adding Agri-Gro Ignite S2 to your starter of Blend 36 or 39 to enhance nutrient availability and plant immunity or pairing Nutri-Life Platform with Springboard to inoculate your crop with mycorrhizal fungi for improved uptake of calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.
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