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Enhanced-Efficiency Nitrogen as Nitrogen Source for Sugar Beet Production

Study author(s):Albert Sims, J.A. Lamb, and K. Nannega (Smith), University of Minnesota, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate
Years of study: 2012-2014
Location(s): Red River Valley area, and the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative area, MN

Important: for the complete report, including all tables and figures, please download using the link(s) to the right.


Half the sugar beets grown in the United States are grown in Minnesota and North Dakota with the majority in Minnesota, approximately 450,000 acres. Nitrogen (N) management is critical in sugar beet production as too little N in the first half of the growing season greatly limits sugar beet root yield. Too much N late in the growing season reduces sugar beet root quality requiring additional expense to process a given quantity of sugar. In the last couple of decades there has been major efforts in research and education reducing the amount of N applied to sugar beet crop while at the same time increasing root yield and root quality. This effort is on-going and continually refines the N recommendation in sugar beet production. However, there are areas in the sugar beet growing area that seem to require higher rates of N, in some cases substantially higher rates, than other areas. Recent research has identified high N use areas in the Red River Valley (RRV) and research has confirmed the requirement for additional N. Growers in those areas are asking if alternative N management strategies might reduce the N required to grow a satisfactory sugar beet crop. Several approaches are being considered and one is the use of polycoated urea (PCU). Many of these growers farm fine textured soils and there is concern that on some years, if not most, a large of amount of N is lost during the season to denitrification. In previous research the PIs on this proposal have found reduced denitrification loss with PCU compared to urea. Is PCU a viable option for these growers?

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