This spring is multiple N feeding year

Published online: Jun 14, 2013
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Though drought and excessive moisture are opposites, they bring similar bottom-line concerns for farmers.

What a difference six months can make as the Mississippi went from alarmingly low water levels to flood stage, and that meant a lot of water run-off from farmers' fields. Farmers who battled drought last fall dealt with heavy spring rains and April blizzards.

Weather extremes can quickly steal the valuable nitrogen fertilizer farmers previously applied to their fields. Without proper levels of the critical nutrient at the appropriate time during the season, plant health and yields are at risk.

With standing water in fields and temperatures on the rise, the potential for nitrogen loss is high this spring. In fact, up to 50 percent of applied nitrogen can be lost to leaching, volatilization and denitrification. To help ensure nitrogen is available when crops need it most, more and more farmers are using a nitrogen stabilizer, such as NutriSphere-N nitrogen fertilizer manager, as well as sidedress applications during critical growth stages.

Many farmers have adopted the procedure of using a nitrogen stabilized nitrogen and integrating  a sidedress application as part of their nutrient management program. This can take the form of applying potassium and phosphorus in the fall, a UAN nitrogen solution in the spring, a starter fertilizer at planting and sidedressing additional nitrogen once during the growing season.

A big concern has been nitrogen loss, especially with the volatile weather conditions that we have seen during the last few years; therefore, stabilized nitrogen products have gained in use. This also coincides with the price of corn and the attempt to achieve higher and higher yields.  

Once the spring nitrogen is applied, a sidedress of nitrogen as the corn reaches four- to five-leaf stage is the last fertilizer step much more today than in the past. The basic thought earning more believers is that crops can achieve higher yield by having nitrogen available over several feedings as opposed to having all of it applied at once.