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Sponsored: Would You Refuse a Christmas Gift?
In a few weeks most will awake to a joyful day of celebration that includes precious family time together and the exchange of presents. Imagine how odd it would be if someone opened a present you gave them and paused to hand it back to you saying “thank you but I would prefer to go purchase this myself”. Now that would be an awkward moment! This year, many farmers in the Midwest were given a free gift of mineralized nitrogen on their farm, but many of them did not accept the gift and instead purchased all of their N.
Mineralization is the burning or oxidation of the organic matter found in your soils. Each 1% of organic matter contains around 1,000 pounds of organic nitrogen. Depending on the year, we mineralize and release around 1-3% of that 1,000 pounds. So if we mineralize 3% of 1,000 pounds that is about 30 pounds for every percent organic matter found in your soils.
Interestingly these calculations are based on one acre furrow slide or a 6.7” depth. In many fields this year conditions were so exceptional that we mineralized organic matter deeper than one acre furrow slice. That is why soil samples taken down to a two foot depth were measuring in excess of 150 pounds of nitrogen in strips that had no applied N!
So the question remains, did growers take advantage of the free gift or did they make up their minds to apply all their N last fall or at planting and pay for something that was available for free? By waiting and understanding the conditions at hand, some growers chose to wait and measure available nitrogen in season. After finding large reservoirs of soil N they reduced their last pass and thus were able to grow excellent crops on much less applied N. There are verified yield results of growers applying .6lb of N per bushel while achieving yields in excess of 250 bu/ac.
So, as we approach the Christmas holiday and you are about to open a present, keep that spirit in mind to see if nature will allow you to reduce your input costs without sacrificing yield by taking advantage of the free gift of mineralized nitrogen!