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RSS By: Kevin Van Trump,

Kevin Van Trump has over 20 years of experience in the grain and livestock industry.

Is Nitrogen Loss a Major Issue With All Of The Current Heavy Rainfall

May 02, 2011


I was sent a great article last night that was written by our friends on the "Agronomic Crop Team" over at Ohio State University.  It addresses the current heavy rainfall and more specifically, if we should be concerned about nitrogen loss this early in the year.  Robert Mullen and Ed Lentz point out that the difference between last year (when concerns really became evident in mid-May) and this year are soil temperatures.  Weather monitoring stations located at OARDC research locations across the state are revealing that we have not reached soil temperatures above 53 F for any extended periods.  This is especially true for the northern half of the state.  Additionally, water logged soils that may be warming are not likely to experience much in the way of nitrification of the applied ammonia.  Remember, anhydrous applied during that very small window two weeks ago or even earlier has not really been subject to nitrification thanks to the cool, water logged soils.  So, should you be concerned?  At this point, you should not be.  This is especially true if you used a nitrification inhibitor.  Something needs to be mentioned about this compressed time frame for corn planting this spring.  If you have yet to apply your N, and you were planning on using anhydrous ammonia, you must allow adequate time between application and planting and the anhydrous must be injected deep enough to prevent contact with the seed.  Mismanagement of anhydrous ammonia applications close to planting can dramatically reduce stand and a thin stand is the easiest way to decrease yield potential.  Lentz and Mullen really want to caution growers who are in in no-till systems that are considering the use of the new anhydrous toolbars that apply ammonia shallower.  These toolbars do reduce surface disturbance, and they do require less draft power to make the applications, but they can cause issues on corn germination.  These toolbars are designed to apply N shallower in the soil, and planting to soon after application can cause some emergence issues.  We are not running down the toolbars themselves as they do what they are marketed to do quite effectively.  They allow no-till producers to supply anhydrous ammonia with minimal disturbance with less power.  Shallower applications of anhydrous are a greater risk for germinating plants, so if you are going to be using these toolbars be prepared to wait at least a week (maybe longer) to plant, or apply the N diagonal to the direction of planting.

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