Follow the Four Rs of Nitrogen Management

May 24, 2023

Well-timed nitrogen applications can boost yields.
“Every good farmer cares about the land, the environment – and making a living,” Tim Stelter, Federated’s Osceola location manager. And every good farmer also knows that nitrogen is critical to good corn yields.
But in the world of sustainable ag, how do we protect the land, the environment, and the bottom line while providing corn with the nitrogen (N) it needs?
Stelter recommends using the 4 Rs as a guide to nitrogen (N) management: the right source, right rate, right time, and right place.
  • Choose the right source – granular urea or liquid UAN.
  • Use the right rate – don’t over or under apply the N.
  • Apply at the right time – ensure N is available when the plant needs it.
  • Get N to the right place – in the root zone.
“The most expensive nitrogen is [the nitrogen] that isn’t used by the crop,” said Tim Stelter, Federated’s Osceola location manager.
“Protecting that N investment is critical,” said Stelter. The earlier N is applied in the season, the higher the risk of loss. (Consider Super U to protect your N investment from leaching and volatilization.)
Multiple applications of N give you the option to adjust application rates and timing based on the weather and rain fall.
“Corn uses 50% of its total N demand between V8 and VR (or roughly knee to shoulder height),” he said. That demand creates a very tight window for application, “again depending upon the weather.” (Products such as Super U help mitigate that window.)
Federated recommends split applications of N and/or sulfur (S) whenever possible, according to Stelter. Both Super U and urea mix well with AMS.
“Control the controllable,” said Stelter. The weather is out of anyone’s control, but you can develop a plan based on your field sizes, soil types, the timing of fertilizer applications (including whether Federated applies it or you do it yourself), and by using products such as Super U and Factor (a urease inhibitor) to protect against N losses.
With good N management, your corn crop moves toward its yield potential, sustainability improves, and you can get a good return on your fertilizer investment. Talk to your Federated Agronomist about your nitrogen needs very soon.

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