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Corn residue has its good and bad points. It’s not so good if it interferes with no-till seed placement or crop emergence, but it’s a great source of food for soil biological activity and contains valuable nutrients for the next year’s crop.
Taking the time to properly manage corn residue in the fall can lead to better yields and more revenue, an agronomist says.
“The University of Minnesota has done a 2-year study and found that when you remove residue from your acre of corn, you get a net gain of 27 bushels more corn,” says Dr. Dan Skow, founder of International Ag Labs in Fairmount, Minn.
While some farmers simply choose to bury residue with moldboard plows or heavy tillage, or even remove it with a baler, to clear the way for planting the next spring, Skow says it’s better to run a sprayer after harvest with a solution of several materials to help that residue break down.
That’s because 200-bushel corn residue can return up to 88 pounds of nitrogen, 32 pounds of phosphorus and 120 pounds of potassium for future crop usage, he claims.
“If you take today’s fertilizer prices — depending upon the prices in your area and how good you are at purchasing fertilizer — that’s about $160 worth of plant nutrients laying on the ground,” Skow says.
He says there are several key ingredients to a liquid solution that can help digest corn stalks prior to planting.
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