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Sponsored: Take the Guesswork out of N Management

Due to unpredictable growing conditions, growers often have to make decisions for their cropping plan not knowing exactly what the season might look like. Fertility decisions are not excluded from this process. In order to purchase fertilizer, they often have to make decisions about rates and forms of N and hope for the best. However, a base plus approach can help growers take some of the guesswork out of nitrogen management by pushing back application to later in the season, making it easier to know how much to apply and when.

Creating a nitrogen plan is one of the most important and expensive tasks growers have to face every year. As the season progresses and growers continue to monitor their crop, the nitrogen decision becomes easier and more clear based on the conditions of the plant. In reality, growers can’t wait until September to make nitrogen decisions, but pushing back application to mid or late season can have its advantages.

Each year brings new challenges revolving around the application and management of nitrogen. Because of these drastically different conditions, it’s nearly impossible to make an educated decision without any information driving it. Here are two examples of the benefits of a base plus approach in the varying conditions that affect nitrogen:

In 2015, record May and June rainfall led to an exceptionally high loss of N. Those who applied a base rate up front and saved some of their nitrogen for later in the season lost less N to denitrification initially, and were able to come back for a second application to supplement the crop with additional N.

In 2016, growers who were constantly measuring their nitrogen during the season were pleasantly surprised to find that higher mineralization rates were provided them with free nitrogen. As a result, they were able to cut back their final application rates and save on input costs.

Regardless of the growing season, don’t rely on assumptions and guesswork to make decisions around nitrogen management. New technologies give growers the power to wait and accumulate information that will help them make better in-season nitrogen decisions and adjustments. Start with a solid base of nitrogen applied in the fall or spring and then put information to work in order to tailor your nitrogen application to the growing season at hand.

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