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‘Split Decision’ Helping More No-Tillers Improve Their Nitrogen Efficiency

Growers and researchers say they’re seeing increased corn yields and more application flexibility with Y-drop systems with targeted placement.


Pictured Above: LATE BOOST. New ‘Y-drop’ technologies, such as those marketed by EZ-Drops and 360 Yield Center, are helping no-tillers spoon-feed nitrogen later in the season to maximize yield potential of today’s racehorse corn hybrids while minimizing waste and loss to the environment

WITH CORN PRICES continuing on a stagnant path for the foreseeable future, many no-tillers are looking for ways to ratchet up efficiency with their inputs, including with nitrogen (N). 

Sidedressing and late-season applications are becoming more important than ever for growers to maximize yields with today’s racehorse corn hybrids. Although spoon-feeding N to corn plants isn’t a new concept, having equipment with the flexibility to apply fertilizer in tall crops without tearing up plants has been a need.

Some no-tillers say ‘Y-drop’ technologies — such as the Y-Drops offered by 360 Yield Center and also the EZ-Drops system — are providing this flexibility to apply nutrients near the corn stalk to better feed root systems rather than splitting rows and putting N farther away. 

About 70% of no-tillers sidedress their corn, according to No-Till Farmer’s Annual Operational Benchmark Study. Spring pre-plant and at-plant applications continue to increase while fall N continues to drop.

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Brownsburg, Ind., no-tiller Mike Starkey has been spoon-feeding N on corn since 2012 and started using Y-drop technology when it launched in 2015. He was trying to keep sidedressed N — applied with a traditional toolbar at the time — from washing away after big rain events.

He also noted the newer…

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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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