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Field Had Plenty of Nitrogen But Couldn't Use It

Field Had Plenty of Nitrogen But Couldn't Use It
Chicken manure provided base for N for the field.

The 2012 crop watch field will wind up making around 40 bushels per acre. It is harvested. When we know the final dry bushels calculation from the farmer, we'll pass it along. The only reason it made 40 and not four was that more than one-third of the field was in a very dark, poorly drained, deep soil type.

It certainly wasn't a lack of nitrogen in the soil that held back yields. Chicken manure was applied on the field. It's a good source of several nutrients, but particularly nitrogen. Since it was worked in, it also meant that there was N distributed across each row area.

Starve in Land of Plenty: Corn simply couldn't get to the nitrogen because of extremely dry soils.

The field was also sidedressed. However, little if any of that nitrogen was used, not at least until after it was too late to change ear and kernel size, because it was so dry. Roots couldn't get to the band. This particular field was hit with an anhydrous application at sidedressing time. The applicator was set up to apply in every other row, with two split drops delivering two streams of anhydrous ammonia. Plants always had anhydrous, the source of N, one side of their root system.

If that was a factor, rather than having it on both sides, it wasn't possible to tell. The corn was uniform within a soil type, but certainly not uniform between soil types. However, the difference between soil types was strictly related to how much moisture the plant could hold on to as it grew. If it got to the critical stage and didn't have enough water, it didn't send out shoots while there was still pollen around.

And it didn't matter whether the corn was on a clay knob or had gravel underneath. There was a big difference in plant height, with the clay know being taller, but in terms of number of ears produced and bushels per acre, it was virtually the same – next to nothing in both cases.

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