Get Technical About Nitrogen Management
Since weather conditions and rainfall volumes are difficult to predict, one way to manage nitrogen is to collect data periodically throughout the growing season using various tests and technology. Here are some tools that can help you make sure your nitrogen is staying where you want it to and not moving off track.
1. Soil sampling
Using a pre-sidedress nitrate test (PSNT) soil sample is one tool that can provide insight into the level of nitrate present at the V5 growth stage. Work with your local trusted advisor to do this just prior to the grand growth phase of corn, when plants have a high demand for nitrogen.
2. Tissue testing
Tissue testing provides a second piece of data to evaluate how much nitrogen is present in the plant at any given time. NutriSolutions® tissue testing lets you gauge the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients your corn plants are taking up. This lets you correct any deficiencies promptly and accurately.
3. Crop modeling
Crop models like the R7® Field Forecasting Tool provide insight into what nitrogen availability looks like for corn on any given field. Models are not perfect, but they do provide a look into the nitrogen sufficiency status of corn during the season. Postseason, the Field Forecasting Tool allows you to review the plant’s uptake throughout the year. Running different scenarios lets you know what you could have done differently during the past season and how to plan for the year ahead.
4. Stalk nitrate test
A stalk nitrate sample is a kind of “nitrogen report card” you can get at the end of the season. It lets you know if your corn plants had enough soil nitrogen available to them, or if they were short and had to “rob” nitrogen from the stalk. This allows you to recalibrate your nitrogen management decisions for next season.
5. Nitrogen stabilizers
No matter the source of your nitrogen, it has the potential to be lost from soil via leaching and denitrification. Help protect your investment with a nitrogen stabilizer. Nitrogen stabilizers can slow the conversion of urea or ammonium to nitrate, which helps keep nitrogen in the root zone longer.
It’s hard to manage nitrogen throughout the season using just one of these methods. It’s when they’re used together that you derive the most benefit. The sooner you can detect whether your corn plants have adequate nitrogen, the sooner you can tackle problems. You can also have greater confidence in your nitrogen management strategy and more assurance in the recommendations your advisor makes, given test results.
Ask your local WinField United retailer about upcoming clinics, where you can learn more about best nitrogen management practices.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2018 and was updated in January 2019.
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