Spring Planning - Consider Your Nitrogen Management Program
When looking at the upcoming spring season and the lack of fall work that was done, is there anything we can do differently when planning for this spring? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” We can play good offense by developing a defensive nitrogen program built around the 4R’s of nutrient stewardship, which are the Right fertilizer SOURCE, at the Right RATE, at the Right TIME and in the Right PLACE.
Implementing a defensive nitrogen program is extremely important because by June, the majority of our fall- and spring-applied nitrogen has been converted to nitrate (NO3- N). In the nitrate form, nitrogen is highly susceptible to leaching and denitrification. So what can be done to minimize nitrogen loss during this time?
First, nitrogen should be split-applied throughout the growing season. As a result, the upfront nitrogen application amount is reduced and the remaining nitrogen balance needed will be synchronized with the requirements of the crop. Corn enters its rapid growth stage around V8 and continues to acquire nitrogen until black layer. By matching nitrogen applications with nitrogen uptake, we minimize the time that the soil has to serve as a “storage tank.” The longer nitrogen is in the “storage tank”, the greater the chance of losing it from one of the holes in the tank, mainly denitrification or leaching.
In addition to minimizing losses, split applying nitrogen also allows us to supply developing corn plants with an adequate supply of NH4+ N. Typically we think of corn plants accumulating most of their nitrogen in the form of NO3- N. However, studies have shown that if we supply a corn plant with a blend of both NO3- N and NH4+ N, we can increase yield. Much like having a well-balanced diet, the corn plant performs better with a 50:50 NO3- N to NH4+ N diet, regardless of rate.
Yes, I know what you are thinking – “Ok, this makes sense, but I just don’t have the time or equipment to side-dress nitrogen.” That is why many farmers are utilizing Coron® to meet the crops nutritional need for in-season nitrogen. Coron is a controlled release foliar nitrogen (NH4+ N) that allows us to apply nitrogen, without the risk of losing it in the soil. Soil applied Nitrogen can be reduce 15- 25% depending on your Coron use rates. It may be applied at side-dress or at tassel with your fungicide. Coron also mixes very well with other products (herbicides), making it an ideal tank mix partner.