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Start planning for next year's nitrogen management now

Start planning for next year's nitrogen management now

Now is the time to start planning for next year and fine-tune your nitrogen management program.

Note: You can listen to my conversation with Mike Zwingman by clicking on the audio file at the end of this blog.

This cropping season has seen its share of challenges. From wet weather early on to shallow active rooting depth later on in the season as soil profiles dried out, corn growers ran into challenges not only in water, but also nitrogen.

In this week's Nebraska Notebook, a podcast focusing on critical crop production issues during the growing season, we visit with Mike Zwingman, Agronomy R&D manager at Central Valley Ag on some of CVA's trials this year using a variety of tools to mitigate nitrogen loss.

PLAN AHEAD: As harvest draws near, Mike Zwingman encourages growers to start planning ahead for next year and fine-tuning their nitrogen management program.

This includes nitrogen stabilizer products like nitrification inhibitors, Y-Drops from 360 Yield Center to apply nitrogen closer to the corn plant's roots, management practices like splitting applications to supply the plant with nitrogen closer to when it needs nitrogen, as well as crop models to see how these tools might work in different scenarios. "We're looking at a lot of individual pieces, and the next step in 2017 will be putting all the pieces together," Zwingman says.

As harvest draws near, Zwingman encourages growers to start planning ahead for next year's nitrogen management. "Once you get to harvest you're in operation mode. You're task-oriented. And so it gets really hard to think about what you're going to do about nitrogen," he says. "We really need to sit down and talk and walk through some fields and look at issues."

This way, growers can begin the conversation to fine-tune their nitrogen management for next year. And the first step is getting timing right and starting to split up applications.

"If you're a fall anhydrous guy, your nitrogen program is by far the most expensive one out of any other way we split it up. It's because of loss and how we realize that loss," Zwingman says. "If you have the capability to fertigate and make one pass with the pivot and balance your nitrogen between fall and between that V8 and R1 window, that's a huge step in nitrogen management from a quality standpoint. From an operation's standpoint, I'm not asking you to do anything you're not already doing."

Then there are tools like Y-Drops to achieve proper placement, as well as tools like stabilizers and assimilators to ensure the nitrogen gets to the crop. "In that conversation we're going to envelope all four R's," Zwingman says. That is, the right place, the right time, the right rate and the right source. "It's not just about stewardship; it's about managing your bottom line."

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