A survey of agronomists from seven universities across the US Midwest has tried to quanitify the amount of nitrogen loss in corn and wheat crops due to unpredictable weather, and that number is more than 80 percent.
December 12, 2008 By Agrotain International
December 11, 2008
St. Louis, Missouri -The 2008 growing season will go down in the record books as one of the wettest in memory in the Midwest and growers suffered the consequences in the form of nitrogen loss and lower yields.
In a survey of agronomists from Midwestern universities, more than 80 percent of respondents ranked the season as wet or very wet. In a year also remembered for high fertilizer prices, weather conditions contributed to significant nitrogen deficiencies in corn and wheat:
- Three agronomists in 10 reported that at least one-half of the acres in their area lacked sufficient nitrogen.
- Three-fourths of the agronomists ranked nitrogen inefficiency on those acres as slightly severe to very severe.
- At least 90 percent of this inefficiency could be attributed to weather conditions, three-fourths of the agronomists agreed.
- Fifty-three percent of the agronomists attributed the nitrogen loss to denitrification, while another 40 percent cite soil leaching.
In one notable survey, an agronomist deemed that as much as 85 percent of the nitrogen loss in their area was due to volatilization. This would mean most of the nitrogen loss occurred before the fertilizer had penetrated the soil.
“These numbers reveal that Midwest growers are losing a staggering percentage of the nitrogen they apply before it can benefit their crops,” said John Hassell, research and agronomic development manager for AGROTAIN International. “Even growers who apply the recommended rates of nitrogen are seeing reduced yields. Those who compensate by increasing nitrogen rates even higher have to deal with the added cost. Unfortunately, most growers don’t know there is a better approach.”
The survey included agronomists from Iowa State University, University of Illinois, University of Kentucky, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, Ohio State University and Purdue University.