Moisture Puts Spotlight On Nitrogen

High corn prices, saturated soils brings up worries about nitrigen loss.

For the second year in a row, growers in many parts of the Midwest are facing moisture-saturated soils that could leave corn short on both nitrogen (N) and yield in 2008. That’s despite the fact that they applied, or are planning to apply, nitrogen at rates that typically are adequate to produce a bin-busting crop.

The possibility that soil moisture conditions could cause large nitrogen losses is especially daunting with corn futures prices above $5 per bushel and in-season nitrogen expected to cost 60 cents or more a pound, says Dr. Tracy Blackmer, research director for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) On-Farm Network.

“There is so much money being invested in the crop, and the crop is so valuable, that growers need to devise strategies to counteract what could be a challenging year for supplying adequate nitrogen to the crop,” he says. “I have been getting lots of calls from growers who are concerned. Many of them applied anhydrous ammonia in the fall because it was relatively cheap compared to other forms.”

His advice? Be prepared to make in-season sidedress nitrogen applications if it looks like the crop will come up short on nitrogen. Additional nitrogen applied at planting could be wasted if conditions are conducive to large N losses.

Based on ISA On-Farm Network research, he suggests sidedressing 50 pounds per acre of additional nitrogen if rainfall is more than 13 inches from March through May.

Another alternative to this sidedress-no sidedress approach is to use an optical sensor system to customize the rate, says Blackmer. Optical sensing technology, which is relatively new on the market, assesses actual crop needs and applies the appropriate additional fertilizer rate in a single field pass.

The On-Farm Network tested the GreenSeeker optical sensing and variable-rate application system in 2007, when many Iowa growers also faced saturated soil conditions that short-changed the crop on nitrogen. The six-sensor GreenSeeker RT200 unit, which is mounted on a sidedress nitrogen applicator, uses infrared and near-infrared light to assess plant biomass and health as the rig moves across the field. Fertilizer rates are adjusted on the go, depending on the sensors’ assessment of the crop’s yield potential.

“The research showed that GreenSeeker detected nitrogen stress and applied the amount of nitrogen needed to alleviate it,” he says. “It provided an economic yield response to the extra nitrogen. The sensors can detect early on which plants are stressed. Often, by the time you can visually see that additional nitrogen is needed, it’s too late.”

ISA On-Farm Network’s 2007 stalk testing program confirmed that above-average rainfall can reduce yield from nitrogen loss.

“More than 30% of the fields we tested were low on nitrogen,” he says. “Growers were horrified by what they saw from aerial imagery and the stalk tests. They lost money because they didn’t have enough N for the crop. That really hurts at $5 corn. Growers have to do what they can to protect this high-value yield.”

The ISA On-Farm Network plans to conduct additional research with GreenSeeker technology in 2008. The research is being conducted with support from GreenSeeker manufacturer NTech Industries, Inc., along with its distributor, Redball, LLC.

Visit www.isafarmnet.com for more information on the ISA On-Farm Network. Visit www.greenseeker.com for more information on GreenSeeker.
 

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More
FertilizerOSHA Hammers West Fertilizer With Over $100K In Fines For April Explosion
October 10, 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the parent company of the West Fertilizer plant, Adair Grain Inc., $118,300 for 24 violations. Read More

Trending Articles

MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechBerendes Joins Verdesian Board Of Directors
September 2, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences announced that Robert Berendes has recently joined the company's board of directors. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
September 2, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches Performance Agriculture Brand
September 2, 2014
Performance Agriculture complements Pinnacle’s existing brands, including Sanders, the company’s flagship farm input retail brand. Read More
Webinars5 Key Benefits Of Attending A Webinar
September 2, 2014
Webinars can provide ag retailers with a convenient option for gaining knowledge on the latest industry issues and solutions. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Is Betting On A Bright Agricultural Future
September 1, 2014
The crop protection products giant is gearing up for a busy time in agriculture by investing in both product production and development over the next couple of years. Read More
Eric SfiligojAn Erie Feeling For Ag
September 1, 2014
Plenty of water issues have been in the news lately, including the continuing drought in California. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires California-Based Retailer
August 29, 2014
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings will acquire Kerman Ag Resources, Inc., which will operate under Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementArcadia Co-op To Merge With Allied Cooperative
August 28, 2014
Allied Cooperative has announced that members of Arcadia Co-op voted in favor of a merger with Allied Cooperative, paving the way for the consolidation which will be effective on December 1, 2014. Read More
InsecticidesBioinsecticide VENERATE Now Registered In California
August 27, 2014
Marrone Bio Innovations' VENERATE is a new tool to help California growers control crop-damaging insect pests, fight the development of insect resistance and reduce pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Read More
CropLife 100Two Iowa-Based Ag Co-ops To Merge
August 27, 2014
The Board of Directors and management of United Western Coop, Missouri Valley, IA has completed a merger with Heartland Co-op, West Des Moines, IA, effective September 1, 2014. Read More
FertilizerKoch Expands AGROTAIN Nitrogen Stabilizer Portfolio
August 26, 2014
Koch Agronomic Services, LLC has added two new innovative nitrogen stabilizers to the AGROTAIN product family – AGROTAIN ADVANCED and AGROTAIN DRI-­MAXX. Read More
Seed/BiotechDuPont To Build Two Seed Treatment Centers
August 26, 2014
DuPont has announced construction on two state-of-the-art centers dedicated to developing and testing seed treatment formulations, applications and seed handling techniques in an important step toward bringing new solutions to growers. Read More
Seed/BiotechLoveland Products Acquires A Controlling Interest In Ag…
August 26, 2014
Loveland Products, a subsidiary of Agrium , has announced the company has acquired a controlling interest in Agricen, a Dallas-area agricultural biotechnology company delivering biochemical-based products for efficient and sustainable plant nutrition. Read More
StewardshipUp Close Look At The 2014 Environmental Respect Award W…
August 25, 2014
The 2014 Environmental Respect Award winners were honored recently at the 24th annual event in Wilmington, DE. Read More
Eric SfiligojAg Science Rejection Carries Consequences
August 25, 2014
As innuendo and fear dog the regulatory process, agriculture can’t get the new tools it needs to combat world hunger. Read More
LegislationFarmers Dismayed As New Farm Bill Dumps Direct Payments
August 25, 2014
The threatened end of cash subsidies to the nation’s row crop farmers dates back through at least the last two iterations of national agriculture policy legislation. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More