Fertilizer can be applied on the surface across an entire field through broadcast applications. High capacity fertilizer spreaders are often used, which spin dry fertilizer or spray liquid fertilizer on the soil surface or on a growing crop. Play the video below to see a broadcast fertilizer application before an alfalfa seeding in the spring.
To apply N to perennial grasses or P and/or K to legumes, like alfalfa, the fertilizer is spread and left on the surface. In this case, known as "topdressing", we rely on dew and rainfall to work the nutrients into the root zone.
N, P, and/or K fertilizer is often topdress applied to perennial forage stands.
When the fertilizer is spread across the soil surface before planting corn, small grains, or perennial forages, it's called a "broadcast" application. The broadcasted fertilizer should be immediately incorporated into the soil through tillage to make sure it's not lost through runoff, erosion, or volatilization. This results in fertilizer being mixed throughout the rootzone and is known as a "broadcast/incorporate" application. Play the video, below, for an example of the broadcast incorporated method.
See below, for a closer view of the broadcast/incorporate method of application.
What are the major pros and cons of topdress and broadcast/incorporate applications of fertilizer?