4 Tips For Smarter Nitrogen Management

4 Tips For Smarter Nitrogen Management

How much nitrogen does it take to produce 200 bushels of corn per acre? That’™s a very common question with multiple answers, according to Ron Lloyd, Agronomy and Technical Lead, 360 Yield Center. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to nitrogen management. And not every corn crop needs the same amount of N to produce 200 plus bushels per acre. The reality is that an effective nitrogen management plan needs to focus on how much N a particular field and corn crop needs, as well as how to properly manage N throughout the growing season – with adjustments along the way.

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“Inputs must be managed differently today, as margins shrink and regulatory concerns grow,” Lloyd says. “œNow is the time to take control and make even smarter N management plans that focus on applying N when and where corn needs it most.”

Lloyd offers four steps to rethinking – and maximizing -” nitrogen management.

  1. Know, don’™t guess how much N is left. “As farmers, we often take the gut-feel approach to crop management,” Lloyd added. “œSometimes that works.” But guessing how much N is in a field – and, in turn, guessing how much to put down – doesn’™t allow for the most accurate and impactful nitrogen management plans. Nitrogen levels are complicated to calculate on gut-feel alone. Rain events, soil moisture, pH, microbial activity and mineralization all play a role. The only way to know exactly much N is needed is knowing how much is in the field.
  2. Don’™t assume a one-and-done approach will do. Corn demands nitrogen throughout the growing season, and its demands fluctuate and continue to grow as the season progresses. In fact, up to 75% of N is used after V10. With too little nitrogen late in the growing season, especially when kernels form, yield potential could be at risk. Split-nitrogen application allows farmers to apply N throughout the growing season. It’s not about starving the crop early by holding N back for late-season application or putting down all of the N early and never coming back. It’™s about maximizing N inputs so it’™s available when the corn needs it.
  3. Provide the right amount of N in the right place. Nitrogen needs change not only throughout the season but also throughout fields. Different management zones in fields use nitrogen differently –” a 3.5 inch rain on a hill makes a different impact on N levels than a 3.5 inch rain in a valley. Taking nitrate samples from different management zones allows farmers to build a variable rate N plan that provides the right amount of N to each zone in a field to maximize every pound of N. Where N is applied within the row also is important. Traditional sidedress methods apply N in the middle of the crop row -” nearly 15 inches from the stalk base. Yet, a corn plant acquires more than 60% of its N from a horizontal radius of approximately 7 inches
  4. Rethink your window of application. Some farmers may avoid split-N application because of the worry, “Will I miss my window?” Traditional sidedress methods tend to have a short and worrisome window of application. And, if farmers miss it, their crop goes without the N it so desperately needs.

Read the full story on 360 Yield Center.