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New website shows impact of practices on corn yield

Aug. 9, 2011 -A new website has been launched, with the help of research by a University of Illinois researcher, who witnessed corn plots with 300 bushel- per-acre production. Now, the "7 Wonders Of Corn" site is up and running and sharing the insights of Dr. Fred Below, whose extensive work highlights the relationship between the seven key factors of corn production.

August 9, 2011  By Agrotain

Aug. 9, 2011 -Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Fred Below witnessed 300-bushel-per-acre corn. And since then, the professor of plant physiology ta the University of Illinois, has spent his career researching how other farmers can do it. The years of groundbreaking information he’s discovered about the specific factors affecting crop yield are now available to the public at

Through his research, Below has categorized the results of his research into seven management practices, or "wonders," that can result in high yielding corn. His study helps growers answer the question of what the latest products and practices contribute to yield.

Below’s unique "omission plots" allowed him and his team to see the bushel impact when an individual "high tech" practice or input was added or subtracted, then compare it to other plots in which all "high tech" actions were in place in same plot. Replicated in various locations during various years, the results allowed Below to identify and rank those seven factors with the greatest impact on corn yield.


"Roughly speaking, the higher up on the Wonder list the more control that factor exerts over the Wonders that follow," Below explains. "When combined, all of these factors contribute to big-yield gains."

In order of importance, they are:

1. Weather

2. Nitrogen/fertility

3. Hybrid selection

4. Previous crop

5. Plant population

6. Tillage

7. Growth regulators

Each factor interacts with the others to produce an average bushel per acre yield. For example, weather and nitrogen directly affect each other. But Below states that, if used correctly, nitrogen accounts for almost the same value as weather; when combined, weather and nitrogen account for more than half the crop yield. Part of the "high tech" package in Below’s study included using "stabilized nitrogen" products, to control nitrogen losses that typically occur.

The new website features separate video segments dedicated to each Wonder, narrated by Below himself. There is also a "news" section about Below’s real-world plots at the upcoming Farm Progress Show and a link to the 7WondersOfCorn Facebook page where growers can share their own photos and experiences.

Below will present his plots and detail the 7 Wonders of the Corn Yield World in person at the annual Farm Progress Show (Agrotain's lot 1164 on Eleventh Street) Aug. 30 – Sept. 1 in Decatur, Illinois.


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