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 Moreover, many current nutrient recommendations, developed decades ago using outdated agronomic management practices and lower-yielding, non-transgenic hybrids, may need adjusting.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

Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
FertilizerCF Nitrogen Investment: What It Means For CHS
August 13, 2015
A record $2.8 billion investment in nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing through CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC, is a historic step that links Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
FertilizerCF Industries, CHS To Form Strategic Venture
August 12, 2015
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. and CHS Inc. announced today that they have agreed to enter into a strategic venture.  CHS, Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsBayer CropScience: A Decade Of Innovation
September 3, 2015
BLAMS! It’s not a sound effect from the pages of a Superhero comic book. Instead this nifty acronym is used Read More
ManagementReviewing MAGIE 2015
September 2, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks what he saw at the recent Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show. Read More
Melissa Olds Dow AgroSciences
Crop InputsDow AgroSciences: Highlighting The Past, Present & …
September 2, 2015
In general, media events held by large agricultural suppliers tend to focus primarily on what plans the company has in Read More
Mobile tablet
OpinionTaking Data Head On
September 2, 2015
As you read this column, I’m hoping that if you picked up the phone and gave me a call, you’d Read More
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More