The 4 R’s For Nitrogen Management and Corn Production in Wisconsin

By Alex Yost, YieldPoint™ Program Specialist

Recently the Agri-View newspaper published an insert of UW Discovery farms research in Buffalo County, this Insert sparked my interest as I read about the sustainability techniques and cropping system that the grower utilized to minimize field runoff and maximize his production. The article partially touches on nitrogen use, but emphasizes the use of the 4 R’s of sustainability, the right source, the right rate, right timing, and the right placement. All of these techniques can lead to increased yields and sometimes decreased costs on farms across the state. Managing the 4 R’s can be a headache for your operation if not assisted by the professional minds of CHS Larsen Cooperative.

Starting with the right source, CHS Larsen Cooperative offers an assortment of types of nitrogen fertilizer, talking with your agronomist and YieldPoint™ representative can help find you the right source of nitrogen to best suit your cropping system.

The right rate is a management practice that has long been pondered at. The go to standpoint of rate has been 1.1 lbs. of Nitrogen per bushel of corn produced. In the past few years though, research has proven that the use of split- applications and matching the right source can bring this number down to 0.7-0.8, which saves your operation money. To better analyze the rate to apply nitrate and ammonium tests are being utilized to develop a nitrogen plan for growers across the nation. At CHS Larsen Cooperative we provide the standard Pre-plant Nitrate and ammonium tests, pre-sidedress nitrate tests, and late season stalk nitrate tests. Alternatively our YieldPoint™ Team offers soil nitrate tests on our SoilScan system for on farm results in less than 10 minutes, utilized with up-to-date soil sampling our YieldPoint™ team and your agronomist can prepare your fields for success with the right rate of nitrogen to suit your yield goal.

The right timing is a topic of discussion that has been researched heavily also. The University of Illinois, under the direction of Dr. Below has developed an uptake curve that can be seen here. This uptake curve of nitrogen shows the importance of timing, as the corn plant will only utilize 5% of its total nitrogen by V6 and takes 75% of its nitrogen after V10. Placing the bulk of nitrogen upfront has been the go to for many years, but this can lead to large losses of nitrogen with heavy rains and dry spells that break down nitrogen in a leachable and volatile state. Utilizing new technology from 360 Yield Center’s Y-Drop, can help you place nitrogen throughout the growing season, matching the timing to when the plants need the nitrogen.

The right placement is the final technique of sustainability that can be managed in nitrogen applications. Traditional dry fertilizer applications lead to a broadcasted blanket of fertilizer in the field, providing food for plants and weeds alike. In season, we then began to utilize coulter application bars, which place the nitrogen down the center of the rows. This being said the bulk of corn roots are held within 6-7 inches from the plant. When placing nitrogen 15 inches from the plant a bulk of the nitrogen can be lost through leaching, long before the roots travel to find the vein of nitrogen. 360 YieldCenter’s Y-Drop places the nitrogen at the bases of the plants, where a few heavy dew mornings can result in the nitrogen being utilized rapidly and efficiently.

Utilizing CHS Larsen Cooperative agronomists and YieldPoint™ specialists can help your operation better manage Nitrogen and the 4 R’s of sustainability in the upcoming growing season.

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