Soil texture and precipitation influence optimal time of nitrogen fertilization for corn

Jared A. Spackman, Fabián G. Fernandez, Jeffrey A. Coulter, Daniel E. Kaiser, Gabriel Paiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

In-season N fertilization is increasingly being used as a management strategy to reduce risk of N loss to the environment. This study evaluated the optimal timing for a split N fertilizer application in corn (Zea mays L.) across different environments and soil textural classes in Minnesota. Treatments consisted of pre-plant (PP) urea applied at 0 to 270 or 315 kg N ha–1 on increments of 45 kg N ha–1 and five split applications (SA) of 45 kg N ha–1 urea ammonium nitrate as starter fertilizer and 90 kg N ha–1 of urea with an urease inhibitor applied at the V2, V4, V6, V8, or V12 stage of corn phenological development. Site-years were grouped according to grain yield response to fertilizer timing. Irrigated coarse-textured soils produced 1.5- to 1.9-fold greater grain yield when fertilizer was split applied from V4 to V12 due to improved synchrony of N availability to crop demand and reduced potential for NO3–N leaching. Rainfed, fine-textured soils had mixed results. Site-years receiving welldistributed precipitation produced greater grain yield when fertilizer was split applied from V2 to V8, but early season N deficiency reduced yield for the V12 application. Site-years with limited precipitation during the late vegetative through grain filling stages of corn had no improvement in grain yield or N use efficiencies for SA because dry soil conditions likely interfered with root development and made N fertilizer positionally unavailable to the crop. This study highlights that the success of SA is largely dictated by soil texture and precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2018-2030
Number of pages13
JournalAgronomy Journal
Volume111
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

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