Nutrition

News 170 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Farm trials show farmers how to reduce N

Ongoing field trials since 2002 by a team that includes 16 farmers, Cornell researchers and Cornell Cooperative Extension field crops educators in 10 counties show that nitrogen for corn can be significantly reduced. This saves farmers money and reducing environmental impact.

"With this program, we focus on determining under what situations extra nitrogen would be good to add and when a farmer can save money by reducing fertilizer applications without impacting yield and quality," says Quirine Ketterings, associate professor of crop and soil sciences, who co-leads the research team. "This is the best way to minimize the potential negative environmental and economic impacts of excess nitrogen fertilizer use."

Additional nitrogen
The project evaluated five treatments when growing corn: no starter fertilizer and no additional nitrogen; a starter of 30 lbs nitrogen only; and starter of 30 lbs nitrogen plus 50, 100 of 150 lbs of added nitrogen on corn newly planted in fields that grew alfalfa (a legume), grass or an alfalfa/grass mix the year before. None of the 16 first-year corn trials evaluated in 2005-06 responded to additional nitrogen after the starter fertilizer, said Cornell graduate student Joseph Lawrence. This indicates that the forage grass and/or legume gave enough nitrogen back to the soil to feed the following year's corn crop, he said. Forage quality was not negatively impacted either.

This project, in its final year, is funded with grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and New York Farm Viability Institute and the Cornell Agricultural Research Station. The project team will also provide conclusions about use of soil nitrogen tests to determine when corn grown in New York needs nitrogen.

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