Fertility Needs In High-Yielding Corn Production

Although advances in agronomy, breeding, and biotechnology have dramatically increased corn grain yields, soil test values indicate that producers may not be supplying optimal nutrient levels. Moreover, many current nutrient recommendations, developed decades ago using outdated agronomic management practices and lower-yielding, non-transgenic hybrids, may need adjusting.

Researchers with the University of Illinois Crop Physiology Laboratory have been re-evaluating nutrient uptake and partitioning in modern corn hybrids.

“Current fertilization practices may not match the uptake capabilities of hybrids that contain transgenic insect protection and that are grown at planting densities that increase by about 400 plants per acre per year,” said U of I Ph.D. student Ross Bender. “Nutrient recommendations may not be calibrated to modern, higher-yielding genetics and management.”

The study examined six hybrids, each with transgenic insect protection, at two Illinois locations, DeKalb and Urbana. Researchers sampled plant tissues at six incrementally spaced growth stages. They separated them into their different fractions (leaves, stems, cobs, grain) to determine season-long nutrient accumulation, utilization and movement.

Although maximum uptake rates were found to be nutrient-specific, they generally occurred during late vegetative growth. This was also the period of greatest dry matter production, an approximate 10-day interval from V10 to V14. Relative to total uptake, however, uptake of phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), and zinc (Zn) was greater during grain fill than during vegetative growth. The study also showed that the key periods for micronutrient uptake were narrower than those for macronutrients.

“The implications of the data are numerous,” said Matias Ruffo, a co-author of the paper and worldwide agronomy manager at The Mosaic Company. “It is necessary that producers understand the timing and duration of nutrient accumulation. Synchronizing fertilizer applications with periods of maximum nutrient uptake is critical to achieving the best fertilizer use efficiency.”

Jason Haegele, another co-author of the paper and post-doctoral research associate at the U of I added, “Although macro- and micronutrients are both essential for plant growth and development, two major aspects of plant nutrition are important to better determine which nutrients require the greatest attention: the amount of a nutrient needed for production, or total uptake, and the amount of that nutrient that accumulates in the grain.”

Study results indicated that high amounts of nitrogen (N), potassium (K), P, and S are needed, with applications made during key growth stages to maximize crop growth. Moreover, adequately accounting for nutrients with high harvest index values the proportion of total nutrient uptake present in corn grain), such as N, P, S, and Zn, which are removed from production fields via the grain, is vital to maintaining long-term soil productivity.

In Illinois, it is common to apply all the P in a corn-soybean rotation prior to the corn production year.

“Although farmers in Illinois fertilize, on average, approximately 93 pounds of P2O5 per acre for corn, the estimated 80% of soybean fields receiving no additional phosphorus would have only 13 pounds per acre remaining for the following year’s soybean production,” said Fred Below, professor of crop physiology. “Not only is this inadequate for even minimal soybean yield goals, but these data suggest a looming soil fertility crisis if fertilizer usage rates are not adjusted as productivity increases.”

Integration of new findings will allow producers to match plant nutritional needs with the right nutrient source and right rate applied at the right time and right place. The same team of scientists is collaborating on a follow-up study investigating the seasonal patterns of nutrient accumulation and utilization in soybean production.

“Although nutrient management is a complex process, a greater understanding of the physiology of nutrient accumulation and utilization is critical to maximize the inherent yield potential of corn,” concluded Bender.

“Nutrient uptake, partitioning, and remobilization in modern, transgenic insect-protected maize hybrids” by Ross R. Bender, Jason W. Haegele, Matias L. Ruffo and Fred E. Below was published in the January 2013 edition of Agronomy Journal. It is an open-access article available here.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Fertility Needs In High-Yielding Corn Production

  1. May I have permission to reprint this article with credit to CropLife in our company newspaper, The Wabash Valley Ag News?

    Thank you.

    Tom Stahl
    Editor
    Wabash Valley Ag News

    Wabash Valley Service Company

Fertilizer Stories

Yara West Sacramento Ribbon Cutting
Crop InputsYara West Sacramento Is Newest Addition
March 27, 2017
Yara’s West Sacramento Terminal was officially welcomed March 21 as the newest Yara North America facility in the U.S. While continually Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
Growing corn
Crop InputsLock Down Nitrogen For 2017 Profits
March 5, 2017
Managing nutrient programs to snuff out the three types of nitrogen loss — leaching, volatilization, and denitrification — is crucial Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
Trending Articles
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teaching Fertilizer Education
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
AdjuvantsA New Weed-Control Era Begins: But First, One Last Obstacle
March 4, 2017
There is trepidation, there is reluctance, and there is excitement. Ag retailers feel it all about the new dicamba and Read More
LIFT Academy video screenshot
Crop InputsLIFT Agriculture Academy: A Q&A With West Central Distribution’s Dean Hendrickson
March 1, 2017
West Central Distribution recently launched its LIFT Agriculture Academy, a new, premiere training and professional development resource for West Central’s ag Read More
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Latest News
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesNew CROSSOVER PRO Formulation Offers Insect and Disease…
March 29, 2017
INNVICTIS CROP CARE, LLC has launched CROSSOVER PRO as a first of its kind formulation combining propiconazole and lambda-cyhalothrin for Read More
Trade Summit
Crop Inputs3 Compelling Reasons to Attend the AgriBusiness Global …
March 29, 2017
The AgriBusiness Global Trade Summit is the world’s premier sourcing event for crop protection and plant health products. Its core Read More
ManagementStudy: Farming Becoming Riskier Under Climate Change
March 28, 2017
Scientists the world over are working to predict how climate change will affect our planet. It is an extremely complex Read More
Young Corn Plants
Crop NutritionProtecting Nitrogen Provides Economic, Environmental RO…
March 28, 2017
Every business looks to improve its return on investment and reduce its risk of loss. Farmers are no different, yet Read More
Water Drainage
Eric SfiligojDMWW Lawsuit Dismissal Good News for Ag
March 27, 2017
On March 17 while most of the nation was toasting St. Patrick’s Day, agriculture was likely lifting a glass (or Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Launches ADVANTIGRO Plant Growth Regulator…
March 27, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis Agribusiness, a recognized leader in the marketing and distribution of crop protection, seed and nutritional products, as well as Read More
Yara West Sacramento Ribbon Cutting
Crop InputsYara West Sacramento Is Newest Addition
March 27, 2017
Yara’s West Sacramento Terminal was officially welcomed March 21 as the newest Yara North America facility in the U.S. While continually Read More
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More