The Agronomists, Ep 57: Dale Cowan and John Heard on determining the most economical rate of N


When it comes to applying nitrogen fertilizer, agronomists have to help determine the right rate, right placement, the right time, and the rate form of N to protect the environment and feed the crop. The backdrop to those decisions include the farm setup, soil test results, yield goals, and product availability. There’s also that key decisions driver: profitability.

To dig in to the most economical rate of nitrogen, host Lyndsey Smith is joined by Dale Cowan with AGRIS Co-Op, and John Heard, soil nutrient specialist with Manitoba Agriculture.

Catch a new episode of The Agronomists every Monday night at 8 pm E!


  • For the west, there may be some decent “money in the bank”
  • For the east, the slate is nearly always a fresh start — mineralization happens later in the season
  • Matching N availability to crop needs is key. Corn needs it much later. Side-dress is a great option for risk management and driving yields
  • First clip: Split app N for profitability — managing for weather volatility
  • What in the world is Delta yield?
  • Zero N does not equal zero yield
  • Even a doubling of N cost only drops the most economical rate 20 ish pounds for corn in some cases. Get those trials going!
  • What is an N ramp trial?
  • Second clip: Can split apps work for canola and wheat?
  • What about protein in wheat? When do you add N?
  • For those looking for the nitrogen rate calculator that John Heard refers to, you can find it here.
  • A parting thought: regulations or certification will likely require hard numbers behind added N. The sooner you begin a process of testing and evaluating for most economical N rates, the better

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