Less is More: No-Tillers Weigh in on Nitrogen Management Methods

A survey of no-tillers uncovers a range of application and management practices — plus uses of precision data and cover crops — that help provide optimal crop yields and cut input costs in no-till operations.

Pictured Above: Doug Galloway from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville takes a Brix reading of white clover on September 9, 2017. The clover is a remnant perennial from prior years of drilled cover crop blends into a tame pasture

Nitrogen (N) management plans are about as variable as the timing and application options available to today’s no-till farmers. Not only is careful consideration given to the types and amounts of N applied, but the use of precision data gathering equipment also enables growers to gauge their success on the fly and take corrective actions as required.

Timing also involves not only in-season application adjustments, but the previous season’s results require decisions be made on the use and types of cover crops to serve as another N source.

Knowing how important proper N management is to both cash and forage crops, No-Till Farmer’s editors recently surveyed readers about their N management strategies, the results they’ve seen and any upcoming plans for 2018.

1. Side-by-Side Comparisons

I have made a couple of major changes over the years in nitrogen management. I moved toward sidedressing the majority of the N on corn as opposed to applying pre-plant urea both with and without Agrotain. I reduced my total N from 225 units to 170 to 190 units and began injecting the N instead of laying it on top.

I’ve observed better yields and fewer years of late season N deficiency symptoms.  I sidedress approximately 150 to 155 units with 32% UAN and average 35 to…

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Mark mcneely1

Mark McNeely

Mark McNeely is the former managing editor of No-Till Farmer and Conservation Tillage Guide magazines. His previous experience includes 25 years in industrial engine journalism and marketing. Mark holds an M.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.

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