Turning conventional wisdom on it's head when it comes to Nitrogen

Running out of nitrogen is often seen as the most limiting factor for corn yield. However, this really isn't the case.

More often than not farmers worry, especially during years with wet springs, that the corn crop won't have enough nitrogen to maximize yield. There are two problems in that scenario. The first is that maximizing yield shouldn't be the goal. It should be optimizing the yield. In this case that's figured economically. Secondly, if the optimal amount of nitrogen fertilizer is applied, it doesn't generally run out says University of Illinois Agronomist Emerson Nafziger:

Nafzinger 1

That's a hundred pounds on central Illinois soils. Calculating the optimum rate, then, might take less N than expected. Farmers can find that number by searching Google for the N-Rate Calculator. Numbers can be generated for seven corn belt states:                                              

Nafzinger 2


You could, says Nafziger, but the whole of the 30-pound range is within one-dollar of the maximum projected return per acre for the corn crop. This is because the optimal rate of nitrogen application curve is very flat at the top.

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