There’s a new research project underway and a soil scientist from the University of Manitoba is taking the lead on the team. Dr. Mario Tenuta will be guiding a team of Canadian researchers to determine best practises on how to apply nitrogen fertilizer in corn crops in ways that not only increase yields and economic benefit for farmers, but also lower environmental losses and greenhouse gases.
“The project will help corn growers to maximize profitability and lower environmental impact through use of 4R nitrogen practices” Tenuta says. The four Rs refer to applying fertilizer at the right source, rate, time, and placement.
“If investment into 4R practices by growers is to pay in the short term, there must be compelling evidence that they can get more yield from the amount of nitrogen used,” he says. “We seek to determine what it pays to use 4R practices.”
The project is a small part of the puzzle in the larger program led by the Canadian Field Crop Research Alliance (CFCRA). Tenuta along with U of M colleague Don Flaten, and researchers from multiple Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada centres, McGill University, and the University of Guelph make up the CFCRA group.
“Corn yields have steadily increased in Manitoba and corn growers want to know how to adjust nitrogen management for Manitoba conditions,” says Lori-Ann Kaminski, research manager, Manitoba Corn Growers. “Especially important are ways that we can balance a supply of adequate nutrition for corn as the growing season develops while not drawing down soil resources or losing valuable plant nutrients from the soil.”
The Cross-Canada Agronomic and Environmental Benefit of Advanced 4R Nitrogen Management of Corn research project received its latest round of funding in April of last year and the project should wrap up at the end of March 2023.