Farm Progress

When it comes to nitrogen management, think about what's driving efficiency and profitability at the acre level – it starts with a pounds per bushel mindset.

Tyler Harris, Editor

June 8, 2016

2 Min Read

Note: You can listen to my conversation with Mike Zwingman using the audio player at the end of this blog.

Following a series of heavy rainfall events across Nebraska, many corn growers are asking questions about how much nitrogen is left in the bucket. Mike Zwingman, Agronomy R&D Manager at Central Valley Ag (CVA), says now is the time to do your homework – that is, assess the situation with soil testing, and make an adjustment properly rather than making an in-season application based on gut reaction. "If I've learned anything, I can't trust my gut when it comes to nitrogen loss," says Mike Zwingman, "I have to go out and experience what's going on and put in the work."

In the latest Nebraska Notebook, a podcast focusing on critical crop-related issues in Nebraska throughout the growing season, we visit with Zwingman on nitrogen management – whether it's mitigating loss before it happens, or adjusting nitrogen management in-season.

Nitrogen models – one of the many tools in the grower's toolbox – are part of this equation, and Zwingman notes this year, CVA is trialing five different modeling tools to see how each one responds to the same scenario, including rainfall events and different application timings. "I don't think any of them [nitrogen modeling tools] are wrong. It's about understanding the quirks of every different tool and how they operate," he says. "We have more tools in our toolbox today than ever before, it's just a matter of finding out which tool is right for your operation and how you go about making decisions, because I think they have different fits for different growers."

And when it comes to optimizing nitrogen efficiency, Zwingman encourages growers to think about nitrogen on a pounds per bushel basis, rather than pounds per acre. "When we start looking at pounds per bushel, we start driving to that acre level of accuracy," he says. "Really, what I see when we start doing this is a mindset of actually understanding the profitability of every acre we farm."

Listen to the latest Nebraska Notebook here:

About the Author(s)

Tyler Harris

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Tyler Harris is the editor for Wallaces Farmer. He started at Farm Progress as a field editor, covering Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. Before joining Farm Progress, Tyler got his feet wet covering agriculture and rural issues while attending the University of Iowa, taking any chance he could to get outside the city limits and get on to the farm. This included working for Kalona News, south of Iowa City in the town of Kalona, followed by an internship at Wallaces Farmer in Des Moines after graduation.

Coming from a farm family in southwest Iowa, Tyler is largely interested in how issues impact people at the producer level. True to the reason he started reporting, he loves getting out of town and meeting with producers on the farm, which also gives him a firsthand look at how agriculture and urban interact.

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