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Advancing Intensive Management of Corn Systems in Minnesota

Start Date: 2013
Principal Investigator: Jeff Coulter
Organization: University of Minnesota, Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
Status: Ongoing

Background Info

Corn yield and its response to fertilizers are largely influenced by weather, leading to challenges and uncertainty in corn management. Research is being conducted on a tile-drained Nicollet clay loam soil in southern Minnesota to determine the maximum corn yields that are possible and the role of fertilizer management in attaining these yields. This study compares two management systems:

  1. Current farmer practice
  2. A high-yield system that is also environmentally responsible (ecological intensification).

For each system, current university nutrient recommendations are being compared to advanced nutrient management. The performance of each management system and nutrient intensity regime is being evaluated with corn yield and nutrient uptake, nitrogen use efficiency, soil nitrogen content, soil carbon content, and soil fertility levels (both macro- and micronutrients). This study is a companion to the AFREC-funded high-yield irrigated continuous corn study established at Becker, MN in 2014. Results from this study will be combined with those from 19 other locations in 9 countries as part of an International Plant Nutrition Institute project, allowing the results from Minnesota to be placed in both U.S. and global contexts.

Objectives

Establish treatments and manage plots

Collect and analyze in-season plant samples

Collect soil samples after harvest and analyze

Manage plots in the fall

Present oral update to AFREC council

Harvest plots for grain, cob, stover, and analyze plant samples collected at harvest

Present research to farmers and agricultural professionals and Extension meetings

Key Findings

Across years, residual soil nitrate-N after harvest in the 0- to 40-inch depth was not significantly different between farmer-practice agronomics and sustainable intensification. For farmer-practice agronomics, residual soil nitrate-N was less with standard compared to advanced fertilizer management in 3 of 6 years on average. For sustainable intensification, residual soil nitrate-N was less with standard compared to advanced fertilizer management in 2 of 6 years and on average.

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