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Can I Fall-Apply Nitrogen on Really Dry Soil?

Oct 11, 2012

Question: Can I fall-apply Nitrogen on really dry soil?

Answer: You may want to consider holding off on fall nitrogen applications if your ground is dry. Some additional thoughts for your consideration: there needs to be some soil moisture to essentially seal the soil after an anhydrous application.

Otherwise, the anhydrous can escape into the atmosphere. Plus, chances are you have a considerable amount of carryover nutrients in your fields, particularly if you experienced hot, dry conditions this season and if you didn’t harvest much of a crop.

In many of those cases, I am telling farmers to just chisel their fields this fall--that they probably don’t need any additional nitrogen to help with corn stalk decomposition. I also am concerned that there is potential for a nitrate problem going into this winter, if your corn crop was unable to use all the nitrogen you applied last spring.

If you are unsure about the amount of nitrates present in your fields, and you do want to fall-apply nitrogen, pull some soil tests at varying levels within each field to verify current nutrient levels before making those applications.

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