As the chief marketing officer for Thurston Manufacturing Company, Nick Jensen travels the farm show circuit year-round, showing the company’s Blu-Jet tillage and fertilizer application equipment. The company markets NH3-, liquid- and dry-fertilizer applicators under the LandRunner, Legacy, and AT (All Terrain) brand names.

Q. What’s hot in fertilizer applicators right now?

We see a big upswing in the number of farmers who are split-applying nitrogen in corn. Also known as “spoon-feeding” the crop or “side dressing,” the practice lets farmers make better use of their fertilizer by measuring yield potential during the crop growth cycle. The farmer puts on only the amount of nitrogen required to grow the bushels he has estimated the crop will yield. 

Q. What’s an example of this?

A typical program might work like this: After measuring the nutrient levels of his field based on yield monitor data or soil grid samples, a farmer would apply a certain percentage of the nitrogen required either post-harvest, preplant, or during the planting operation. After planting, the farmer monitors growing conditions. If the growing conditions are ideal, the farmer would expect the yield potential of the crop to be strong and would increase the amount of nitrogen injected in the side-dress operation as the plant would require more to grow that large a yield. If growing conditions are less than ideal, the farmer would apply less nitrogen on those fields that were calculated to yield less.

Q. What are the benefits to farmers?

It saves on fertilizer costs and reduces the likelihood of overapplication. Farmers can make their overall fertilizer use more efficient, lower their costs of production and increase their bottom line.

Q. What equipment is being used to do this?

Blu-Jet currently makes four models of side-dress applicators for liquid fertilizer to help farmers accomplish this, including the AT7000, which is the first 90-ft. swath width, liquid side-dress injection applicator available for commercial sale. We also make four models of side-dress applicators for NH3 fertilizer, including the Legacy SD, our newest side-dress NH3 applicator that combines the best features of our larger AT6020 applicators but with specific adaptations to allow for easier side dressing with a pull-type NH3 applicator. 

For more information, visit blu-jet.com.

Note: This is part of a Q&A interview series with agricultural industry execs about the latest industry trends, forecasts and technologies changing the farm industry.