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Completed: New York Phosphorus (P) Starter Project

Does your corn need starter phosphorus fertilizer?

Download impact statements in PDF format:

Download growing season results in PDF format:

Handouts and Posters:

Download final NESARE report narrative:

Participating Extension Educators:

Carl Albers (Steuben Co), Pete Barney (St. Lawrence Co), Shawn Bossard (Cayuga Co), Peter Carey (Sullivan Co), Janice Degni (CCTTS Area Extension Specialist), Mike Dennis (Seneca Co), Dale Dewing (Delaware Co), Aaron Gabriel (Washington Co), Kevin Ganoe (Mohawk Region Area Extension Specialist), Mike Hunter (Jefferson Co and Lewis Co), Dayton Maxwell (Saratoga Co), Jeff Miller (Oneida Co), Mike Stanyard, Nate Herendeen and Nancy Glazier (NWNY Dairy Livestock and Field Crops Team).

Participating Producers:

Jerry Blumer (Weedsport); Randy Brouillette (Waterville); Bill Brown (Hammondsport); Ken Burr (Searsburg); Timothy Cantwell (Richfield Springs); Greg Coller (Dekalb); Roland and Randy Cross (Afton); Clark Decker (Stockholm); Dave Fisher (Madrid); Dudley French; (Chemung); Gary Gaige (Mecklenburg); Jon Greenwood (Canton); Greenwich Central School Ag Class with help from Bill Elsworth (Greenwich); Mark Grocott (Edmeston); Les Hargrave (Depeyster); Paul, Tim, and Mark Heiden (Madrid); Hendee Homestead Farm (Hornell); Rick Holdridge (Bloomville); John Hourigan (Elbridge); Jessica Huang (Waddington); Alan Hunter (Redwood); Wilfred Hughson (Jeffersonville); Mark Jahnke (Cherry Valley and Cooperstown); Bill Kilcer (Genoa); Lou Ann King (Madrid); David and Andrew Kross (Earlville); Frank Lamport (Hobart); Ralph Lott (Seneca Falls); John Maxwell (Lakeville); Kevin McCollum (Canton); Mike McMahon (Homer); Tom Moskin (Ava); Steve and Gary Natali (East Springfield; Cooperstown); Steve Nemec (New Hope); Ken Pemberton (Lisbon); David Post (Stamford); Charlie Roberts (Fort Jackson); Dave Schefferstine (Westmoreland); Joe and Kirk Schwasnick (Little Falls); Maurice Stoughton (Newark Valley); Sykes Dairy Farms (North Branch); Richard and Steve Talcott (Aurora); Glenn and Larry Taylor (Cassville); Gary Teel (W. Barneveld); Gary Tiernan (Waddington, Chase Mills); John Williams (Carthage); Rob Williams (Waterville); Wayne Wood (Northumberland and Saratoga); Marty Young (Cuyler).

Other participants:

Elaine Dalrymple (Schuyler Co SWCD), Mike Davis (Willsboro Research Farm), Dr. Adam Khan (Morrisville Technical College), Mark Ochs (consultant), Dr. Greg Roth (Penn State), Ron Stutzman (Stutzman’s Research Farm), Ev Thomas (Miner Institute).


This project is funded by a research and extension grant from NE SARE. Other contributors include NRCS, Northern NY Agricultural Development Program, Agway’s Lyon blend plant, Carovail, Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., and AgriCulver Seeds.

Cornell University Phosphorus Recommendations for Corn

The Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory rates soil test P (STP) levels of 9-39 and >40 lbs P/acre (Morganextractable P) as "High" and "Very High", respectively. Soil test levels <1 lb P/acre are considered "Very Low", 1-3 lbs/acre is classified as "Low", and 4-8 lbs P/acre constitutes "Medium". Once a high STP reading is reached, minimal P fertilizer is required to support optimum yields. Cornell discourages fertilizer addition to fields with STP levels of 40 or higher (i.e. those that test Very High in STP) for two reasons: (1) P addition to these soils is not likely to results in yield gains, and (2) over-application may lead to P losses to surface and ground waters and thus contribute to environmental degradation.

New York Starter P Project

To evaluate and demonstrate the value of phosphorus (P) starter application on soils testing High or Very High for soil P, we initiated a state-wide, on-farm starter P project in 2000. Specifically targeted were soils with Morgan P levels (STP) between 20 and 39 lbs P/acre. Demonstration plots (with and without P in the starter) were established at 12 cooperator farms across NY. Harvest data were obtained from 10. Averaged among all fields, no yield increase was obtained by adding starter P. These results supported the current recommendation of no more than 10 lbs P2O5/acre for soils with soil test P levels of 20-39 lbs P/acre (i.e. testing high in STP). The yield penalty for eliminating P from the starter band appeared to be minimal or non-existent. Additional trials with expanded treatments were conducted on-farm in 2001 and 2002. Yields showed a response to N+K, but no significant response to P application on soils testing high or very high in P. Since the initiation of the starter P project, 67 on-farm trials and 13 research trials have been established and evaluated. Based on the results of the past three years, we conclude that on sites that test high in P and have no manure applications planned for the season, no yield penalty is expected when P starter levels are reduced below 25 lbs P2O5/acre. On sites that test very high in P or when manure is applied to high testing sites, there is a low probability of a starter P response and P could be eliminated from the starter without a yield penalty. Corn responds to N in the starter band more often than P and we continue to recommend 20-30 lbs of banded starter N, even where P is eliminated. For more information, contact Quirine Ketterings ( or 607-255-3061) or Karl Czymmek ( or 607-255-4890). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.