A new system for sidedressing nitrogen may increase yield by 20-30% per unit of rescue nitrogen by placing the nitrogen closer to the roots. Combine this with later sidedressing (V14-18), closer to peak plant need, and you have a recent on-farm replicated strip trial conducted by The Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) On-Farm Network. The trial spanned the extreme 2012-2013 growing seasons, which triggered weather-related nitrogen losses for many farmers.

“Weather extremes call for new, innovative ways to manage nitrogen that could change an unprofitable year into a profitable one,” says Pat Reeg, On-Farm Network director, that tested the new concept.

“Historically, late-season nitrogen applications haven’t always worked because we lacked the rainfall to move it into the plant’s ‘availability zone.’” Reeg says. “The Y Drop applicator may be a promising tool to change this.”

The Y Drop applicator increases the odds that your applied nitrogen enters the root zone because it surface-applies nitrogen just 2-3 inches from corn roots on both sides. Consider the extreme 2013 growing season in eastern Iowa, where the 2012 drought left more residual nitrogen in the soil after harvest, and record heavy spring 2013 rains leached it out of the soil. Then the weather dried up, threatening potential take up of rescue nitrogen treatments.

“Split nitrogen application gives you a lot of options especially when weather is extreme,” Reeg says. “The risk of losing nitrogen increases when applying all of your nitrogen down before planting (whether spring or fall) in years such as 2013 where fields received leaching rainfall events. Sidedressing nitrogen also has risk if farmers are unable to apply because fields are too wet or we lack the moisture needed to deliver sidedressed nitrogen to the plant roots. The Y Drop system is a new option that may help farmers with these weather extremes. Because every farm and circumstance is different, there is no one-size-fits-all nitrogen answer.”

Insure N availability in extreme weather

Ensure nitrogen availability in extreme weather