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Better manage nitrogen through sidedress application

Source: Wikipedia Commons

Midwest farmers have finally kicked off spring planting. Fieldwork is getting done a little later than usual, but farmers are determined to get this year’s crop in.

As farmers enter fields, a seed company encourages them to weigh their nitrogen options.

Weather seems to be the common denominator when it comes to delayed fieldwork. Late rains interrupted harvest, an early frost postponed fall nitrogen applications and heavy rains setback planting. Each weather-related challenge has forced farmers to become creative in producing the next best crop.

Paul Parcher serves as Channel agronomist in northern Iowa. Parcher reminds farmers – There are options, especially when it comes to nitrogen applications. He adds, “Farmers may not be able to get all nitrogen on before they plant, but there is always the option to come back and sidedress.”

“A couple of points here: Farmers get to see how the crop is doing, so they can make a decision regarding whether or not to add nitrogen or back off, based off how the crop is looking,” Parcher said. “They also have a better way to manage their rate because when they’re applying nitrogen in the springtime, they’re hoping for the best and don’t know how their crop is going to turn out.”

Parcher mentioned “right rate,” one of four guiding principles for nitrogen application. Channel agronomists suggest farmers can better achieve cropping system goals by also fixating on the other 4R concepts: Source, time and placement.

“Sidedress allows you to pick the right source, based on what works. We have several options that can be done with sidedress. It also allows the farmer to improve the timing of the nitrogen application, by allowing the farmer to have nitrogen out there in an available form for the plant to uptake when it needs to. When we’re putting nitrogen on earlier in the spring, nitrogen is sitting in the soil, waiting to be taken up by the plant. When we put it on a little bit later, the plant is in a place to take the nitrogen up right away.