In much the same way as a growing child’s dietary needs change, a plant’s nutritional requirements vary during the different stages of its development. When the conditions for germination are right, there are sufficient quantities of the necessary nutrients within a seed to sustain growth until the young plant develops its first true leaves. From that point forward, however, the new seedling must rely solely on the soil as the source of its essential nutrients. Treatment with a suitable starter fertilizer will often be advantageous in promoting healthy seedling growth. These products can benefit species ranging from lawn grasses and flowers to maize and other cash crops.
These nutritious mixtures can be particularly beneficial when planting a crop in cold, wet soils when the seedlings are most vulnerable. A relatively light application of an appropriate mix of nutrients will provide them with an easily accessible food source. Later, when their root system is sufficiently well developed, the young plants can begin to extract their requirements from the soil.
The critical components of an effective starter fertilizer are nitrogen and phosphorus, as these are necessary to promote healthy root growth. However, seedlings cannot easily extract phosphate from the soil until the roots are fully developed. Hence, it is required to provide phosphorus in a more accessible form. Although potassium is also recognised as one of the three essential plant macronutrients, only minimal amounts are necessary for the developing seedlings at this stage.
Nevertheless, a preliminary soil analysis can alert the grower to any significant findings that might need consideration. For example, soils high in phosphorus may only require a starter fertilizer with a readily available nitrogen source such as ammonium sulphate or ammonium nitrate. The effect of applying the product will be to increase a crop’s early seasonal growth rate. However, this does not necessarily lead to increased yield. In practice, additional alternative treatments will generally be necessary for this purpose.
Because the seedlings’ initial requirements are comparatively limited, even a relatively light application can produce some impressive results. Although your soil analysis might indicate the concentrations of the existing nutrients vary widely in parts, a uniform application of the starter fertilizer across the proposed planting area should prove adequate.
Kynoch has been a leader in yield-enhancing technology for more than a century. We promote the application of selected growth enhancers through a programme of scheduled nutrition. To meet the needs of newly planted seedlings, we have developed KynoPop®, a highly water-soluble, well-formulated mix of macro-, secondary and micro-nutrients. The product enhances early root development and increases tolerance to pests and diseases. Download the profile sheet to learn more about this world-class starter fertilizer.