Cut The Wait For Pre-Sidedress Nitrate Tests

New technology could give no-tillers the results of PSNTs in only minutes, helping them get more out of sidedressing applications in corn.

Mobile Units In Your Area?
Some crop scouts and retailers have mounted NWN units in their trailers and will hit the road in the Corn Belt this year. Check with a local retailer or call 1-855-GO-SOLUM.

Pre-sidedress nitrate tests (PSNTs) are an emerging method to help no-tillers make more accurate nitrogen recommendations at sidedressing time for corn in the four- to six-leaf stage.

The lag time in getting results for PSNTs through a typical laboratory — sometimes a week or more — can be a disadvantage of using the test, especially if big changes occur in the weather while the results are pending.

But a new rapid test developed by Solum Inc. to calculate residual nitrate levels in fields could help no-tillers get more timely results from the tests. Solum borrowed a technique used in oceanography that utilizes ultraviolet light to look at the absorption of nitrate-nitrogen in moistened-soil samples.

With Solum’s “No Wait Nitrate” rapid system, soil samples are blended with water. The slurry is processed by a self-contained machine and measured by an optical device to show what the levels are in parts per million (ppm).

The system can be used for a variety of nutrient management and monitoring applications, including PSNT, pre-plant nitrate testing or monitoring nitrogen mineralization and leaching with regularly timed soil sampling.

“The big difference is that we don’t dry and grind…

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John-dobberstein2

John Dobberstein

John Dobberstein is senior editor of No-Till Farmer magazine and the e-newsletter Dryland No-TillerHe previously covered agriculture for the Tulsa World and worked for daily newspapers in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Joseph, Mich. He graduated with a B.A. in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University.

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