How much N to produce a bushel of corn?


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    Many producers believe or have been told that to produce a bushel of corn you need at least 1 to 1.2 lbs of N. Research and field trials have shown that you can use much less than those figures and still reach your yield goals.
    For example- On our farm we use 0.60-0.70 lbs. of N per bushel, and we keep experimenting with lowering those numbers. A lot goes into determining your N needs such as; residual N in the soil from the previous year, recognizing the previous years soybean credit, water nitrate levels (if under irrigation), how much the residue will be broke down to provide additional N. This last one is complex and difficult to predict as it is influenced by temperature, moisture and a healthy soil full of microorganism.

    Here are the results of last years North Platte TAPS ‘Highest Input Use Efficiency’ contest winner- Population= 33,000. Nitrogen 107 lbs/a. Irrigation= 12.32″. Yield= 233 bu/a. That comes out to 0.45 lbs. of N. per bu.


    Our UNL Nitrogen recommendations shows it takes 1.2 lbs. N per bushel, that is what the plant uses, but that you don’t need to apply that much fertilizer. Check out the following publication.


    At Sentinel Fertigation we have put together some case studies which show the nitrogen use efficiency growers achieved with our platform in the 2022 growing season. Hopefully we will have more to share as we get harvest data from the 2023 growing season.


    One of the toughest parts of nitrogen management is the yield goal. Most growers look at this as a stagnant number rather than a moving target. After seeing some of these national yield goal contest numbers whether or not you believe the high numbers being thrown around I think we all can agree that we can raise better corn. We can talk ROI in another thread but if we can raise these higher yields what is limiting us? I believe that our biggest limiting factor is now stress. Heat stress at certain growth stages, cold stress early season and bad emergence, drought stress, heavy rains and water logged during early season these all play a role in stressing the plant. Spreading out the nitrogen into multiple applications helps us change our rates(and yield goal)depending upon stress levels. Each grower will think a little different on how each stress event affects yield so that’s the tough part. Maybe all this new AI will come up with an algorithm for us!?

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