What’s the number one question you ask of yourself or your agronomist as you plan your corn crop? It’s likely, “What’s the right rate of nitrogen for this field?” It’s the golden question, as Dr. Dave Hooker, of the University of Guelph-Ridgetown, says, and the answer can be as low as zero or as high as 250 pounds an acre in extreme cases.
One factor that we’re only just beginning to quantify consistently is the level and rate at which soil will release nitrogen to the corn crop. Soil has a baseline level of nitrogen at all times, but nitrogen is also mineralized and made plant available throughout the growing season. How much of that N can you depend on to contribute to yield?
The answer to that question involves four things: the previous crop(s); soil quality; soil organic matter; and, tillage. How do each of these factors impact the total amount of N available in a given year? That’s what Hooker walks you through in this Corn School episode (see them all here!), as he encourages farmers to think of nitrogen management as a larger soil and crop system.
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