How a Starter Fertilizer Can Improve Soil Health >>

Starter Fertilizer for Corn

Starter fertilizers in corn production are heavily debated and depending on environmental conditions can be a very useful tool to help ensure that plants come up strong and consistent. Many have seen the benefits to plants having easily accessible nutrients right near the seed in achieving early season consistent stands. However, year-to-year results can be highly variable, especially when taken to yield. 

There are lots of different options when discussing starter fertilizers, from raw materials to placement, and there are costs and benefits associated with them all. Now, with the introduction of biostimulants, there is another added layer to the starter fertilizer conversation.

Starter Fertilizers and Soil Microbiomes

In recent years a slew of new tests and protocols have been released that are beginning to provide some insights into how our fertilizer decisions affect the soil microbiome. Our biggest question is how these starter fertilizers are affecting the soil microbes early in the season and is the effect of starter fertilizers a result of the labile nutrients, the soil microbe/plant interactions, or a combination of both. The next question was how we can utilize bionutritional tools to aid in both to provide more consistent results when taken to yield.

Starter Fertilizers – Tested and Proven by Timac Agro


Timac Agro has several research farms throughout the US and we challenged ourselves to have a look at interactions between the soil microbiomes, starter fertilizer, rates, and how this related to final yield and ROI. 

We started with a relatively simple experiment that took a common starter and our patented technology Fertiactyl RhiZn. Fertiactyl RhiZn is a bionutritional with humic/fulvic acid, seaweed extract and carries a 10-0-5, 2Zn analysis. All the product components are designed specifically to give the plant a good start. 

A 6-24-6 at 5 gallon/ac, 6-24-6 at 2.5 gallon/ac + 1 qt/ac Fertiactyl RhiZn and 2 qt/ac Fertiactyl RhiZn were blocked and replicated 4 times on our research farm in Lancaster County PA and applied in-furrow. A standard 5 gallon/ac was applied to every plot, water was used to make up the difference in treatments that did not have 5 gallons/ac in raw materials. We took a 10-core composite sample from each plot at V2 stage corn, in between two corn plants. We took a field composite sample from the row middle to be used as the field baseline. The samples were sent to Regen Ag Laboratories for Haney Testing and PLFA testing.

Fertiactyl RhiZn Soil Microbial Response


The results above show the plot averages from the PFLA tests conducted. They show that the starter fertilizer, no matter which one was chosen, boosted the biological activity in the soil when compared to the field composite average. This means that when we apply a fertilizer as starter, we are not only providing nutrients to the plant but actually the soil microbes as well. The 6-24-6 plot alone showed the most variability, as shown by the large error bars on the charts. When the Fertiactyl treatment was added to the starter, or was applied by itself, those error bars tighten up, meaning we saw more consistency across the plots, in terms of response. The most interesting finding was the 2 qts/ac Fertiactyl treatment, meaning the entire starter was 4.5 gallons of water with 0.5 gallons of Fertiactyl, which saw a consistent and large jump in soil microbial activity.

The actual amount of nutrients applied mattered very little and increases in soil microbial activity was a better predictor of yield increases later in the season. There is a still a lot of work to be done across our research farms but in this case study, increasing soil microbial active was a better predictor of yield response then lbs of nutrients/acre.

Fertiactyl RhiZn Yield Graph


Contact us to learn more about positive results with our patented starter fertilizer options.


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Alexander Duffy - Timac Agro USA




Alexander Duffy

National Product Manager