December 07, 2023

Manage nitrogen on your farm

Utilize soil’s ‘free gift’

ATLANTA, Ind. — Nitrogen can be managed in many ways, including via rates, placement, timing, source and loss.

Jim Schwartz, director of research, agronomy and Practical Farm Research at Beck’s Hybrids, shared advice during Becknology Days.

“As it relates to nitrogen, I think there are a lot of us who have free gifts available, but we’re not opening that gift that’s available to use in our soil,” he said.

“The free gift is mineralization of your organic matter. There are years when we have great mineralization of organic nitrogen, and the amount of nitrogen that we need is a lot less to grow that bushel of corn.”

It takes around 1.1 pounds of nitrogen to produce one bushel of corn.

Your soil is a source of nitrogen to feed your crop, Schwartz said.

“Some soils provide as little as 25% of the crop requirement, with the remainder coming from fertilizer,” he said.

“Other soils provide in excess of 50% of the crop nitrogen demand, according to a report from Purdue University. That’s from mineralization of that organic matter.”

Nitrogen Efficiency Tips

1. Account for all of the potential sources of nitrogen.

2. Maximize other tools, such as timing, placement and stabilizers.

3. Provide the correct forms at the right times in the needed supply.

4. Measure and understand your results throughout the year.

Schwartz also recommended split applications.

“We don’t want to over apply, we don’t want to lose it and we don’t want to waste it,” he said.

“Split applications allow us to accumulate more information. That knowledge allows us to be much more efficient.”

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor