Maximizing Your Return on Fertilizer Investment

Providing crops with adequate plant-available nitrogen is very important, especially  to dairy farmers, because it has a profound effect on crop yields and quality. While all plant available nutrients can change forms and become more or less available, nitrogen is particularly difficult to manage. Plant-available nitrogen in a given undisturbed field can increase as organic matter decomposes (mineralization), and can decrease via leaching, volatilization, denitrification, or immobilization. To make matters worse, each of these factors are affected by management: tillage, manure incorporation, levels of soil organic matter, timing of manure application, temperature, etc. All those variables make it hard for farmers to know if the nitrogen they’re applying is actually making a difference.  There’s so much lag time between the time you put the fertilizer on the field and the time you cover the bunker silo for the last time during the harvest season, that the cause-effect relationship may be less apparent. You’re left wondering, “Was this terrific yield really the result of the fertilizer I put on, or was it the amount of manure that I put on? Maybe we just had good rain? Or was it the Sna-Koil fertilizer additive I bought?” The good news is that there are two tools out there to help you figure out how much nitrogen to apply without leaving money on the table. Between them no one should find themselves in a situation where they have no idea how much sidedress N

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One thought on “Maximizing Your Return on Fertilizer Investment

  1. It would have been nice to show PSNT v Adapt N recommendations for a large range of conditions, rather than only show the data for a highly unusual location-year in which the PSNT would have needed a deeper sample to be accurate. Maybe the story would be the opposite in other years? What we really need to know is how well did Adapt N perform over a wide area and time frame. I’m sure it works best near New York State where the data base is greatest. Folks in the corn belt say they are less than happy with the results.

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