Corn School: Tracking nitrogen uptake and needs in season

AGRIS Co-operative agronomist Dale Cowan

There’s plenty of crop management data available to growers in our mobile, connected world and it moves at ever-increasing velocity.

On this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School, AGRIS agronomist Dale Cowan looks at simple ways growers can tap into this data to make in-season management decisions and also run field trials to evaluate how new products perform on their farm.

First up, Cowan looks at how nitrogen uptake and in-season requirements can be tracked throughout the growing season in geo-referenced fields with GPS-derived boundaries.

In the video, Cowan illustrates how nitrogen test strips can easily be established in this corn field located at Chimo Farms at Mount Bridges, Ont.

Using Adapt-N, a digital nitrogen management software for corn, Cowan can access 35 years of weather data for the field. With the addition of soil sampling information, soil types and classification, yield maps, planting dates, and relative maturity, management zones can be created to track nitrogen throughout the season.

In the field, low rate strips of 40 lb actual N are set at strategic locations based on slope position compared to the rest of field at 193 lb N. This allows a grower to track the yield difference between the two rates to confirm optimum nitrogen rates.

“The big thing is, on a daily basis, it tracks the nitrogen status in the field — what’s the plant taken up, how much nitrogen is left — and if the model feels you’re going to run out of nitrogen, it will actually make a recommendation, even on a site-specific basis,” says Cowan. “And it will show you a map of where to put the extra nitrogen if you’re so inclined.” (Story continues after the video.)

Cowan also shares how digital data can be used to establish test plots to evaluate new product performance. In the video, he looks at a plot comparing BioPath, a crop biological stimulant, applied with side-dress UAN, compared to an untreated  check. “There are 22 replications transecting soil types, slope position, varying soil fertility levels and pH . Once we gather the yield map and import into our system it is a simple ‘yield by product analysis’ to determine product response.”

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