“We’re trying to be the most efficient we can be with what we have,” says Jason Strode. Jason and his father, Richard, farm about 5,200 acres of corn and soybean crops near Owensboro, Kentucky, where they’ve begun focusing on nitrogen management and have looked harder at providing nitrogen to the crop when it needs it.
Strode noticed the benefits of lower rate applications by accident when he ran short of liquid nitrogen applied through one of his center pivots. “At harvest, my yield map showed a pie-shaped slice in that field. There was a 40-bushel yield drop where the nitrogen stopped.”
Strode now has a new approach to nitrogen application:
- Apply one-third as a preplant broadcast along with a burndown
- Apply the second third at the knee-high V4 to V5 stage
- Apply the final third at V10
The process, while effective, requires careful testing. “I do a lot of soil nitrate testing throughout the summer to calculate the need for the last two applications. Side dress here is a no-brainer. With CEC ratings from 8 to 20, our soils can hold from 80 to 200 pounds of nitrogen. There’s no reason to add more because the soil won’t hold it.”
Other reasons not to overdo applications and spreading include:
- Raining, flooding and bad weather washes out nitrogen applications, making poorly timed applications inefficient.
- Spreading nutrients every two years on corn-soybean rotations reduces costs and gives time for potash to break down and be effective for the beans.
Thanks to ample groundwater, the Strodes have about three-quarters of their ground under center pivot irrigation. While the pivot irrigation provides the fertigation option, they are moving to applying all nitrogen through side dress and with a sprayer, using Y drops for the last application, to cover every acre evenly.
The Strodes prefer the Case IH Nutri-Placer 920 as a simple, durable and effective liquid nitrogen side-dressing tool:
- Contains a 24-row unit with a 1,650-gallon tank and a hydraulic pump
- Manages rates by using the AFS Pro 700 display, with GPS-based automatic section overlap control
- Transports easily via an X-fold design that reduces transport height to 13 feet 4 inches
“It’s easy to fold and take down the road,” Strode says. “It’s a great product. It’s held together really well compared to applicators we’ve had in the past.”
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