Avoid Costly Nitrogen Losses

Protecting nitrogen is even more critical for farmers cropping land a long distance from home.

As urban areas stretch further into the countryside, adding more acres often requires no-tillers to buy or rent land located miles from their center of operation.

The operators of Lukow Brothers Farms near Chebanse, Ill., find long-distance farming can sometimes affect timely nitrogen application. Brothers Ron and Larry Lukow no-till more than 2,000 acres in both Kankakee and Iroquois counties.

“We planned an early spring surface nitrogen application on a 240-acre field last spring, but knew it could be days before we might get back to work the nitrogen into the soil,” says Ron Lukow.

“Rather than wait for significant rainfall or lose our nitrogen investment to volatilization losses, we decided to add Agrotain to the mix.”

Custom Application Pays

Prior to no-tilling corn last spring, the Lukow brothers had Chebanse Ag Service surface apply 25 gallons of 28 percent urea-ammonia nitrate (UAN) on the 240-acre corn field along with the recommended rate of Agrotain and a herbicide.

In mid-April, the Lukows applied another 19 gallons of 32 percent UAN with their no-till planter equipped for zone tilling corn. Their goal was a corn population of 27,000 to 30,000 plants per acre in 30-inch rows.

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Throughout the growing season, Ron noticed the field treated with UAN and Agrotain was a deeper, greener color than the farm’s other fields. While he admits it is an unscientific measurement, Lukow says a lack of green color in plant leaves is generally one of the first signs of nitrogen deficiency.

“In August, many corn…

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Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has served as editor of No-Till Farmer since the publication was launched in November of 1972. Raised on a six-generation Michigan Centennial Farm, he has spent his entire career in agricultural journalism. Lessiter is a dairy science graduate from Michigan State University.

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