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Get Precise On Corn N RatesGet Precise On Corn N Rates

Cornell's Adapt-N program zeros in on sidedressing needs, cuts costs.

John Vogel

December 29, 2010

2 Min Read

Wouldn't it be great to precisely tailor nitrogen applications with a field-specific tool? More than 18 years ago, Harold van Es, Cornell's Crop and Soil Sciences chairman, hatched the idea. And now, after years of development, it's field-ready.

In 2010, the Adapt-N software was field-tested in New York and Iowa, and it passed. In brief, you can tap a Cornell-based web site, plug in your field information. The software analyzes local weather data and calculates environmental losses from fertilizer and manure applications, then sends you its N recommendation.


"Today, we can have far better than plus or minus 40% accuracy," says van Es. Adapt-N uses field information entered by farmers in tandem with data from the Northeast Regional Climate Center and accommodates year-to-year and field-to-field variability of nitrogen availability.

"Corn gets nitrogen from a number of sources and there are many ways nitrogen can get lost from the root zone as a result of weather-related factors," points out Jeff Melkonian, Cornell University agronomy researcher. "Adapt-N tool provides more precise, field-specific nitrogen recommendations based on early season weather's impact."

Melkonian says, "In warm weather, nitrogen mineralizes faster from organic matter in the soil to become available to the corn, while the opposite is true in colder weather. In a drier spring, nitrogen mineralizes and remains in the root zone where the corn can take it up, while in a wetter year the nutrient may leach out of reach of the crop roots."

Farmers interested in using Adapt-N must contact Melkonian at [email protected] for a user ID and password entry.

After a funding shortfall in 2010, Adapt-N is back on track with additional funding via a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant. "The tool has been refined, and we have a good web interface," adds Van Es.

Learn more about it at http://adapt-n.eas.cornell.edu . Catch more Adapt-N details in February's American Agriculturist.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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