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May 2, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Spring N Management is Important for Triticale Forage Performance Regardless of Fall Management

Spring N Management is Important for Triticale Forage Performance Regardless of Fall Management

Sarah E. Lyonsa, Quirine M. Ketteringsa, Greg Godwina, Jerome H. Cherneyb, Karl J. Czymmeka,c, and Tom Kilcera,d
a Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, b Soil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, c PRODAIRY, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, and d Advanced Agricultural Systems, LLC, Kinderhook, NY

Introduction

Including a cool-season crop like triticale in a forage rotation can be a rewarding enterprise for dairy farms in the Northeast. Double cropping with winter cereals can provide environmental advantages such as reduced risk of erosion and nutrient loss, enhanced soil fertility, and improved rotation diversity, in addition to increased total season yields. Planting before September 20th was shown to increase nitrogen (N) uptake and biomass in the fall (see Lyons et al., 2017), but the impact of fall management on spring performance was unclear. To evaluate the effect of planting date and fall N availability on triticale forage yield and quality, three trials were conducted from 2012-2014.

Trial Set-Up

The three trials were planted with triticale (King’s Agri-Seeds Trical 815 variety) from late August to early October on research farms in eastern NY (Valatie) and central NY (Varna). None of the fields had a recent manure history. Each trial had two planting dates (one before and one after September 20). Triticale was planted at a 1-inch seeding depth and 7.5-inch row spacing (120 lbs/acre seeding rate). To create a range in soil nitrate availability, 5 N rates were applied at planting in the fall (0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 lbs N/acre; main plots). Biomass was sampled in the fall (see Lyons et al., 2017). In the following spring, the same 5 N rates were applied at dormancy break (0, 30, 60, 90, and 120) for each fall N rate (sub plots). All plots were harvested at flag leaf stage in May of each year (from May 14-21) at a 4-inch cutting height. Measurements included dry matter yield, crude protein (CP), the most economic rate of N (MERN), the ratio of fall biomass to spring yield at the MERN to see if fall biomass can predict spring yield, and “Nitrogen Use Efficiency” (NUE). The NUE is the measure of N taken up in relation to yield, and is calculated by subtracting the yield when no N was applied in the spring from the yield when N was applied (at 30, 60, 90, or 120 lbs N/acre), and dividing that value by the N rate applied: NUE (lbs DM/lbs N) = (Triticale yieldN rate – Triticale yield­0 N)/N rate. A higher NUE means that more of the N that was applied was taken up by the triticale.

Results

We found that when no N was applied in the spring, N applied at planting the previous fall increased spring yield only when triticale was planted by September 20 (Figure 1a). Across all trials, yields with no fall or spring N applications averaged 0.8 tons DM/acre. With fall N applications ranging from 30-120 lbs/acre (no spring N), yields ranged from 1.4 to 1.9 tons DM/acre. Yields trended upward with increasing fall N rates, but the only significant yield response to N was at the 30 lbs N/acre treatment. Where triticale was planted after September 20, fall N did not significantly increase spring yield (1.2 tons DM/acre average) (Figure 1b). Crude protein at spring harvest followed a similar trend as yield, but it took a fall application of 120 lbs N/acre to see a significant difference in CP (9.4 versus 10.7%) in the spring (no N applied at green-up) and that occurred with early planting only. Because fall uptake of N does not seem to greatly influence forage protein content in the spring, these results suggest that proper spring fertilization management for optimal nutritive performance is most important.

Figure 1: Effect of fall N application on triticale yield and crude protein concentrations in the spring. Triticale was seeded on two planting dates: before September 20 (A), and after September 20 (B). No N was applied at green-up in the spring N. Data are averages for three locations.

Although fall N application and planting date had some impact on spring yield, neither treatment affected spring MERN (Figure 2a), yield at the MERN (Figure 2b), or NUE at the MERN (17.6 lbs DM/lbs N average). Additionally, the ratio between fall biomass and spring yield was not impacted by the treatments. The earlier planted sites had higher ratios (closer to 1) because with earlier planting there was more fall biomass and the relative gain in yield in the spring was smaller.

Figure 2: Spring most economic rate of N (MERN, A) and yield at the MERN (B) for different fall N fertilizer rates and planting dates of triticale.

Conclusions and Implications

Winter cereals like triticale grown for forage in double crop rotations can provide environmental benefits and additional harvestable forage for dairy producers in the Northeast. When no N was applied in the spring, a small fall N application at planting (30 lbs N/acre) increased yields in the spring if the stand had been planted before September 20. There was no benefit of fall N when the stand was planted later in the fall. Crude protein was only increased when a large amount of fall N (120 lbs N/acre) was applied at a planting date before September 20 and when no spring N had been applied. The MERN and yield at the MERN for each trial were not influenced by fall N or planting date, suggesting that spring N management is by far the most important management consideration for achieving optimum yields. A larger sample size than just three locations may be needed to detect any differences but this research suggests that on fields without recent manure histories, triticale forage requires 60-90 lbs N/acre at dormancy break to achieve optimum yields. Work is ongoing to determine N needs for forage winter cereals under a variety of management scenarios, including manured fields.

Reference

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by Federal Formula Funds, and grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP), New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI), and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE). For questions about these results, contact Quirine M. Ketterings at 607-255-3061 or qmk2@cornell.edu, and/or visit the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program website at: http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/.

 

May 9, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Nitrogen Management for Forage Winter Cereals in New York

Nitrogen Management for Forage Winter Cereals in New York

Sarah E. Lyonsa, Quirine M. Ketteringsa, Shona Orta, Gregory S. Godwina, Sheryl N. Swinka, Karl J. Czymmeka,b, Debbie J. Cherneyc, Jerome H. Cherneyd, John J. Meisingere, and Tom Kilcera,f

a Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, b PRODAIRY, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, cDepartment of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, dSoil and Crop Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, eUSDA-ARS Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, Beltsville, MD, fAdvanced Agricultural Systems, LLC, Kinderhook, NY

Introduction

Forage double-cropping, or growing two forage crops in a single growing season, can be a beneficial practice for dairy farmers in New York. Double-cropping corn silage with forage winter cereals, such as triticale, cereal rye, or winter wheat, can add additional spring yield on top of numerous environmental benefits including preventing soil erosion, nutrient recycling, and increased soil organic matter over time – which all promote increased soil health. Winter cereals intended for forage harvest require nitrogen (N) management to reach optimum yield and forage quality. This study was aimed at identifying field and management characteristics that can estimate yield and N needs for winter cereals harvested for forage in the spring.

Field Research

A state-wide study with 62 on-farm trials investigated the spring N needs of forage winter cereals across New York from 2013 to 2016. Each trial had five rates of N (0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 lbs N/acre) applied to farmer-managed forage triticale, cereal rye, or winter wheat at green-up in the spring to determine the most economic rate of N (MERN). All forages were harvested at the flag-leaf stage in May each year. Soil samples were taken at green-up before fertilizer was applied. Farmers supplied information about management practices and field characteristics, such as past manure applications, planting date, and soil drainage. This information, in addition to soil fertility analysis results, was used to develop a decision tree model for predicting MERN classification.

Results

About one-third of the trials did not require additional N (MERN = 0), while the remainder responded to N and most required between 60 and 90 lbs N/acre (Figure 1). Yields at the MERN across trials ranged from 0.4 to 3.0 tons DM/acre (1.8 tons DM/acre average). Yield could not be accurately predicted based on information gathered, but the lower-yielding sites (< 1.0 tons of DM/acre) tended to be poorly or somewhat poorly drained and not have a recent manure history.

Farmer-reported soil drainage, manure history, and planting date were the most important predictors of the MERN (Figure 2). Most of the winter cereals grown on fields that were described as well-drained by the farmers did not require additional N at green-up. For the fields reported as somewhat poorly- or poorly-drained, 60 to 90 lbs N/acre were required if the field had not received manure the previous fall. If manure had been applied recently, 60 to 90 lbs N/acre were required for stands that were planted after October 1 versus 0 lbs N/acre if planting had taken place before October 1.

Forage winter cereal most economic rates of N (MERN) and yield at the MERN

Figure 1. Forage winter cereal most economic rates of N (MERN) and yield at the MERN for 62 N-rate trials in New York from 2013 to 2016. Fertilizer N was applied at spring green-up and forage was harvested at the flag-leaf stag in May.

Decision tree for forage winter cereal most economic rate of N (MERN) at spring green-up

Figure 2. Decision tree for forage winter cereal most economic rate of N (MERN) at spring green-up. If the indicated site or history factor in the blue box is true, move to the left branch in the tree; if false, move to the right branch. The predicted MERN is listed in the red boxes. Recent manure history refers to manure applied within the last year (either spring or fall). This decision tree correctly predicted MERN classifications for 78% of the trials included.

Forage winter cereal crude protein as impacted by N rate applied at spring green-up

Figure 3. Forage winter cereal crude protein as impacted by N rate applied at spring green-up for 62 trials in New York from 2013 to 2016. Forage was harvested at the flag-leaf stage in May.

Most forage quality parameters were not impacted by N rate. Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) at the MERN ranged from 42 to 60% of DM (52% average), in vitro true digestibility (IVTD) at the MERN ranged from 81 to 94% of DM (88% average), and NDFD digestibility (48-hour fermentation) at the MERN ranged from 67 to 84% of NDF (78% average). However, crude protein (CP) increased with N rate for most trials, even those with MERNs of 0. Crude protein averaged 13% of DM for the 0 lbs N/acre treatment and 20% of DM for the 120 lbs N/acre treatment (Figure 3). On average, CP increases by 1% for every 15-20 lbs of N applied. These findings suggest that additional N beyond the MERN can increase the CP levels of the forage while not impacting other forage quality parameters.

Conclusions and Implications

Results from this study emphasize the importance of growing conditions for optimum forage winter cereal performance. In fields that have poor drainage and lack recent manure histories, forage winter-cereals may not yield well and will likely require additional N inputs, while fields with well-drained soil conditions and better soil fertility will support higher yields and better forage quality without needing additional N in the spring. Planting date is also a critical management consideration. Planting late in the fall (after October 1 in this study), may result in lower yields (see also Lyons et al., 2018a). Timely planting (before October 1) in fields with good soil fertility and/or recent manure histories more often resulted in MERNs for N at green-up of 0 lbs N/acre, which would save farmers time and costs in the spring. Nitrogen management at green-up did not greatly affect forage quality except for CP, which increased with N addition even if the additional N did not increase spring yield.

Additional Resources

  • Lyons, S.E., Q.M. Ketterings, G.S. Godwin, J.H. Cherney, K.J. Czymmek, and T. Kilcer. 2018a. Spring N management is important for triticale forage performance regardless of fall management. What’s Cropping Up? 28(2): 34-35.
  • Lyons, S.E., Q.M. Ketterings, G.S. Godwin, K.J. Czymmek, S.N. Swink, and T. Kilcer. 2018b. Soil nitrate at harvest of forage winter cereals is related to yield and nitrogen application at green-up. What’s Cropping Up? 28(2): 32-33.

Acknowledgements

Cornell, Nutrient Management Spear Program, and Pro-Dairy logosThis work was supported by Federal Formula Funds, and grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP), the USDA-NRCS, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NESARE). We would also like to thank participatory farmers and farm advisors for assisting with the trials, including Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, consultants, NRCS staff, and SWCD staff. For questions about these results, contact Quirine M. Ketterings at 607-255-3061 or qmk2@cornell.edu, and/or visit the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program website at: http://nmsp.cals.cornell.edu/.

June 6, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on What’s Cropping Up? Vol. 28 No. 2 – May/June 2018

What’s Cropping Up? Vol. 28 No. 2 – May/June 2018

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