No-Till Offers Options For Nutrient Management

Picking a system that safely feeds nutrients throughout the growing season can help corn reach its yield potential.

 When no-tilling, soils are cool at planting relative to more conventional systems. As a result, nitrogen management and timing can have a significant impact on your success. 

It can be important to get some nitrogen starter nutrients close to the seed for early growth. Most of us use pop-up and/or 2-by-2-inch fertilizer placement to get young plants off to a good start. These practices generally help plants get to the V2 stage without any nutrient shortages.

However, in moist, early growing seasons, plant roots don’t seem to keep up with plant growth. If you’re putting on 10 or fewer units of nitrogen starter and the rest of the nitrogen has been deep-banded as ammonia or 28%, plants in mid-growing stages may be short of nitrogen.

Deep-banding anhydrous or 28% provides a good supply of nitrogen for later in the growing season, but may not be close enough to the plant roots to provide adequate nitrogen for early season growth. You may need to make another source of nitrogen available to growing plants until they reach these deeper nitrogen bands.

Consider supplying nitrogen for the seedlings and small plants as pop-up or 2-by-2; include another source of nitrogen for mid growing stages; and then apply the majority of the nitrogen in pre-plant bands or sidedress. The correct solution may depend on how easily you can change your planting and fertilization system.

Nitrogen At-Plant

One option is to put coulters for applying 28% on your planter about 4 inches from the row…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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