By Darren Hefty

How much stuff can you put in the furrow?  More importantly, what can you put in the furrow that will give you a positive Return on Investment (ROI) when you’re planting corn?  Finally, is there more of an advantage putting some things in-furrow rather than spraying them early post-emerge?

If you aren’t set up to apply liquids in-furrow, you may want to get set up to do it.  I realize it’s probably a little late to do it now, but how many new crop inputs have you had to say no to this year that you thought might have had some promise?  Here are the categories I’d recommend considering now, but there may be even more things available in the near future.


If you have the capability of applying liquid in-furrow, chances are you want to do some pop-up fertilizer.  The key here is to keep the salt level of the fertilizer low.  For example, in 30-inch row corn, you should put no more than 5 pounds of salt on per acre.  That equates to just 3 gallons of 10-34-0.   For this reason, the market is shifting to more low-salt products like Pro-Germinator and Sure-K.  Don’t forget about micronutrients at planting time, as well.  A 2 x 2 placement is also great, but you can certainly put things like Micro 500 and TJ Micromix right in the furrow.  I prefer the micros in-furrow for a slightly more consistent yield impact and because fertilizer plus Banvel or Status early-post can be pretty hot on the corn.


In recent years, there have been a lot of corn acres.  One of the problems with a high amount of corn acres is an increase in corn rootworm numbers.  Add to that the growing problem of corn rootworms resistant to the single trait Bts, and it’s easy to see you probably need to be applying some corn rootworm insecticide at planting time.  Capture LFR is the best choice to apply as a liquid in-furrow; and if you need help buying a system for your planter, they have programs to help you do just that.  Capture LFR mixes fairly well with many liquid fertilizers, but we’d recommend doing a jar test first to be sure it mixes with your specific blend.  Adding water to the tank first often helps improve mixing characteristics.


Many of the biological products on the market today need to be applied where they can quickly attach to the root system.  In-furrow may be your best chance for that to happen.  Last year, we tried a product called Challenge 2050, and we’re going to use it in-furrow on quite a few acres this year.  Check with your agronomist to make sure these products are compatible with the other things you’re putting in-furrow.  For example, Challenge 2050 should not be used with micronutrients in the furrow.  You may also consider Bio-Forge, MegaGro, or a host of other options.


Last year, we tried Headline in-furrow and saw a 6.5 bushel response.  If it was just one strip in the field, it would be impressive enough; but we did replicated trials to take out the variability.  This is something we’re going to try on more acres this year.  The caution here is that Headline doesn’t mix well with many fertilizers, so you must jar test first.  Also, we had better luck putting water in the tank first before adding the fertilizer and the Headline.  The old Headline formulation, not the new SC version, must be used unless you are mixing with water only.

We commonly see a strong, positive ROI from all these categories on our farm and many others.  Try something new on your farm this year.  In many cases, it could be added right in with what you’re already doing; so, it doesn’t take a whole lot of extra work.  Just be careful to ask someone about tankmix compatibility before you mix up a big batch.  Always do a jar test.