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PFR Report: Sidedress Application Management

Published on Wednesday, June 3, 2020

With warming trends sweeping across the Corn Belt region, our corn crop is growing rapidly as we accumulate heat units. This means in-season nitrogen management decisions are upon us or quickly approaching. In our Practical Farm Research (PFR) department, we have found the most effective way to supply our corn crop with adequate nitrogen in season is through a sidedress application. In any crop production system, maximizing each pass across the field is essential and our sidedress application is no different. Before heading to the field to make a nitrogen application there are some factors to be considered including: timing, rate, and application method. (PFR sidedress application studies are conducted using 32% or 28% UAN).

View the 2019 Sidedress Application Study Here

To target the optimal timing for a sidedress application, one must understand the physiology of a corn plant, and specifically nitrogen uptake timing, first and foremost. Nitrogen uptake in a corn crop peaks between the V8 and VT growth stages. 

PFR Proven Corn Strategies

By understanding nitrogen uptake patterns in corn, PFR has conducted trials across multiple locations for 4 years showing that targeting the V3 corn growth stage maximizes the return on investment of that sidedress application.

Nitrogen management is a moving target based on soil type and composition, weather conditions, and crop rotation, among many factors. So, how do we determine nitrogen application rates?  Nine years of PFR data from multiple locations has shown that the economical optimal rate of nitrogen for corn-after-corn ranges from 220 to 230 lbs./A.  and corn-after-soybeans is between 190 and 200 lbs./A., depending on price per unit of nitrogen. 

New PFR Nitrogen Management Products & Studies

While targeting the optimal sidedress application timing and rate are crucial, PFR is also looking at different application methods such as NutriMax by Unverferth. NutriMax allows you to surface apply nitrogen near the row while also running a coulter that injects nitrogen between the rows. While applying 100% of nitrogen through the coulter proved to be the most effective last year, we are continuing to test this product by adjusting ratios of surface-applied and soil-applied nitrogen. Certain application methods apply UAN to the soil surface that increases the risk of volatilization. To mitigate risk of volatilization, a urease inhibitor such a Limus® by BASF or Anvol from Koch Agronomics, that we are currently testing, among other products, can be used.

View the 2019 Multi-Location Corn Nitrogen Application Study Here

To further maximize our pass across the field in PFR, we are continuously putting sidedress additive products to the test. In 2019, we looked a variety of sidedress additive products including UltraMate® Zn, Carbon Works CetaiN®, and Humika that are being tested again this year with the addition of NACHURS K-fuse to the Humika treatment.

View the 2019 Multi-Location Corn Sidedress Additive Study Here

Closing Thoughts

When planning your sidedress application, remember to target the V3 growth stage, to calculate the optimum nitrogen rate based on your crop rotation and cost per unit of nitrogen, and to use an application method that effectively applies nitrogen into the soil profile.  For more information on sidedress applications or nitrogen management studies contact your local Beck’s seed advisor or PFR team member. 

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Author: Caleb Shoemaker

Categories: PFR, PFR Reports


Caleb Shoemaker

Caleb Shoemaker

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