What's Cropping Up? Blog

Articles from the bi-monthly Cornell Field Crops newsletter

August 7, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on What’s Cropping Up? Volume 28, Number 3 – July/August 2018

What’s Cropping Up? Volume 28, Number 3 – July/August 2018

August 3, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Nutrient Boom Allows for Mid-Season Manure Application in Corn

Nutrient Boom Allows for Mid-Season Manure Application in Corn

Greg Godwina, Quirine M. Ketteringsa, Karl J. Czymmeka,b, Todd Dumondc, and Doug Youngd
a Nutrient Management Spear Program, Dept. of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, b PRODAIRY, Dept. of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, cDumond Farms, Union Spring, NY, and dSpruce Haven Farm and Research Center, Union Springs, NY

Introduction

The application of manure to an actively growing crop can improve the uptake of nutrients, with benefits to both the crop and the environment. The “Nutrient Boom” (Figure 1) is a new tool developed by Doug Young of Spruce Haven Farm and Research Center (Union Springs, NY) and partners that allows for the application of liquid manure to corn as tall as 7 ft. It applies manure through flexible hoses in a 120 foot swath with little damage to the standing corn. Mid-season manure application allows for greater flexibility in the spring for planting and can reduce runoff by delaying spreading to a drier part of the growing season. Two years of field trials were conducted to compare corn yield with mid-season manure application with yields obtained with inorganic nitrogen (N) application.

Figure 1: The Nutrient Boom allows for manure application in standing corn.

Field Research

A trial was conducted in Union Springs, NY, in 2016 and 2017. There were two 120 foot wide manure treatments, each replicated three times: (1) No manure (control treatment); and (2) Manure (targeted rate of ~12000 gallons/acre). Within each manure treatment, six 300-foot long subplots were established that received the following sidedress N treatments after the manure was applied: (1) No sidedress N; (2) 35 lbs N/acre; (3) 70 lbs N/acre; (4) 105 lbs N/acre; (5) 140 lbs N/acre; and (6) 175 lbs N/acre. In 2016, one corn variety was used (PO157AMX). In 2017, each strip was split through the middle and planted to two corn varieties (DKC54-36AR and P0506). Corn stalk nitrate test (CSNT) samples were taken when the corn had a moisture content of about 35% dry matter (typical silage harvest time). The field was harvested for grain in both years. Yields were obtained from yield monitor maps calculated from 200-ft lengths in the middle 80 ft (40 ft per variety in 2017) of the plots to minimize the influence of adjacent treatments.

Results

Plots receiving manure mid-season averaged 181 bu/acre (2016) and 159 bu/acre (2017). The corn grown in these plots did not respond to extra N fertilizer regardless of rate. The corn in plots that did not receive manure responded to N fertilizer (Figure 2). Pre-sidedress nitrate tests taken prior to manure and inorganic N application indicated a response to N was likely in both years.

Figure 2. Corn grain yields as impacted by mid-season manure application, fertilizer sidedress N rate and variety. Yield data obtained with a yield monitor. Conditions were extremely dry in 2016 and wet in 2017.

Figure 3. Corn grain yield, Corn Stalk Nitrate Test (CSNT) and grain yield:CSNT ratio as influenced by N rate and manure application for 2016 and 2017 combined for plots that did not receive manure (yellow) and plots with manure addition (green).

Because corn grown in plots that received manure was not responsive to extra fertilizer N, the most economic rate of fertilizer N (MERN) where manure was applied was 0 lbs N/acre. The MERN for the non-manured plots was 121 lbs N/acre in 2016, and 133 lbs N/acre (DKC54-36AR) and 143 lbs N /acre (P0506) in 2017, using $4.35/bu of grain and $0.32/lb of N fertilizer. Yield at the MERN averaged 157 bu/acre in 2016, and 122 bu/acre (DKC54-36AR) and 145 bu/acre (P0506) in 2017. Manure addition increased yield to 16-35 bu/acre above yields obtained at the MERNs with fertilizer N only.

Results were similar both years despite large differences in precipitation between the two growing seasons. Of the two varieties planted in 2017, both performed similarly in the manured plots but P0506 responded more to the N in non-manured plots and used N more efficiently (MERN was 10 lbs/acre higher while yield at MERN was 23 bu/acre higher for P0506).

The CSNT results (Figure 3) showed an increase in CSNT when N fertilizer was added beyond the MERN in plots that had not received manure, resulting in peak in grain yield to CSNT ratio just prior to the MERN. For plots that had received manure, this relationship was different, reflecting that additional N fertilizer could not increase yield but did increase CSNT values.

These results show two things: (1) the benefit of the manure application mid-season for overall yield of the field; and (2) the potential for both gains in yield and savings in N fertilizer costs with application of manure to fields that are N deficient.

Conclusions and Implications

Manure application mid-season with the Nutrient Boom at rates applied in the study benefitted corn grain yield beyond what could be obtained with fertilizer in 2016 (dry year) and 2017 (wet year). Corn that was grown on plots that received the manure did not respond to sidedress N application in 2016 or 2017, independent of variety. Thus, manure applications were high enough to meet the crops’ N needs but N supply was not solely responsible for the higher yield. The higher yield and lack of response to fertilizer N in the manured plots suggest great potential for lowering of whole farm nutrient mass balances with manure application mid-season, especially for fields that are N deficient and would otherwise have needed a fertilizer N application. Future work should focus on rate calibration and control of the applicator and comparisons of impact of rates and timing of application on yield and N use efficiency. The current model was susceptible to clogging, but this is being addressed in the next version of the Nutrient Boom.

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the New York Farm Viability Institute and Federal Formula Funding. We would like to thank the staff at Dumond Farms and Spruce Haven Farm and Research Center and NMSP team members who helped out with the trials. 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/

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

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/.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

May 2, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Soil Nitrate at Harvest of Forage Winter Cereals is Related to Yield and Nitrogen Application at Green-up

Soil Nitrate at Harvest of Forage Winter Cereals is Related to Yield and Nitrogen Application at Green-up

Sarah E. Lyonsa, Quirine M. Ketteringsa, Greg Godwina, Karl J. Czymmeka,b, Sheryl N. Swinka, and Tom Kilcera,c
a Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, b PRODAIRY, Dept. of Animal Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, cAdvanced Agricultural Systems, LLC, Kinderhook, NY

Introduction

Double cropping with winter cereals provides many benefits to forage rotations, including soil erosion control, addition of soil organic matter, nutrient recycling, and boosting home-grown forage inventory. Previous work on winter cereal cover crops (green manure, not harvested for forage) in New York suggested that, in most cases, 20-30 lbs nitrogen (N)/acre can be credited to the next crop (see Ort et al., 2013). When the winter cereal is harvested for forage instead of terminated as a cover crop, about 50 lbs N/acre is removed for every 1 ton DM/acre harvested, but some N remains in the crop stubble and roots. For a winter cereal yielding about 2 tons DM/acre there will still be an estimated 0.7 tons DM/acre in the root and stubble biomass (see Long et al., 2013), meaning about 20-30 lbs N/acre could become available over the growing season as the residue decomposes. Due to the time it takes to decompose this biomass, residual N from winter cereal roots and stubble is not likely sufficient to offset starter N needs if the next planting occurs shortly after the winter cereal is harvested. However, when fertilizer N is applied to winter cereals at dormancy break, there is usually some nitrate remaining in the soil as it is likely that not all of the N applied is taken up by the winter cereal. In some situations, the residual nitrate from a spring topdress fertilizer application may meet early season corn needs and substitute for a starter N application. This summary aims to address how to credit N to the next corn crop from fertilized winter cereals harvested as forage.

Field Research

As part of a state-wide study investigating spring N needs of winter cereal forages, 63 on-farm trials were conducted in New York from 2013-2016. Trials 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). The forages were harvested at flag-leaf stage in May each year. For seven of these trials in central New York (in 2015 and 2016; two cereal rye, five triticale) we took soil samples (0-8 inches) at green-up and at harvest and analyzed them for soil NO3-N (KCl extractable NO3-N). While nitrate exists in the soil as NO3,  we measure it in the lab as nitrate-N, or NO3-N, which represents the total amount of N in the nitrate molecules, not the total nitrate in the sample. Planting dates for the seven trials ranged from September 15 to October 10, and harvest dates ranged from May 11 to 21. All seven sites had a manure history and were in corn prior to planting of the winter cereal. Winter cereals were drilled at seeding rates ranging from 100 to 125 lbs/acre. Here we report on the NO3-N levels in the soil at harvest of the winter cereal as an indicator of spring starter N needs for corn.

Results

Figure 1. Nitrate-N at harvest of two cereal rye trials and five triticale trials in New York (2015-2016). Nitrogen fertilizer at the indicated rates was applied at dormancy break. Different letters indicate significant differences between N rate treatments.

Across all seven trials, soil NO3-N following harvest increased with fertilizer N applications at green-up (Figure 1 and Table 1). On average, NO3-N levels at harvest were 12, 13, 18, 27, and 40 lbs NO3-N/acre for the 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 lbs N/acre treatments, respectively. For the two trials that had yields of 1 ton DM/acre or less (#58 and #62), left-over soil NO3-N was considerably higher, especially when N was applied above the MERN (Table 1). The trial that had the highest yield at 3.1 tons DM/acre (#63) had the lowest residual soil NO3-N at harvest for all N rates even though the MERN for this site was 0 lbs N/acre (crude protein increased with N addition). These data suggest that residual soil NO3-N is related to yield; the higher the yield, the lower the left-over soil NO3-N at harvest. Applying N at rates above the MERN can also result in elevated soil nitrate concentrations.

Conclusions and Implications

Nitrate as represented by NO3-N in the soil at harvest ranged (averaged across sites) from 12 lbs NO3-N/acre for the 0 lbs N/acre treatment to 40 lbs NO3-N/acre for the 120 lbs N/acre treatment. Based on the results here, when N applications are close to the MERN for the site, soil NO3-N at harvest is approximately 10 lbs NO3-N/acre, the level typically measured at the start of the growing season at sites without winter cereals in the rotation. Left-over NO3-N in the soil is related to yield of the winter cereal; higher yield means lower residual soil NO3-N at harvest, while low yield (less than 1 ton DM/acre) can result in high soil NO3-N levels. The basic recommendation for corn is to apply a small amount of starter fertilizer at planting (20-30 lbs N/acre). This is under the assumption that there is not a significant amount of NO3-N available from other sources at that time. This winter cereal research suggests that there can be a sufficient amount of soil nitrate at harvest that could be available to the subsequent corn crop, especially when winter cereals are fertilized at green-up at levels that exceed crop needs and/or where yields are depressed for other reasons. The most direct way of determining soil nitrate at winter cereal harvest is to soil sample for NO3-N. Fields that will be planted to corn where soil nitrate levels exceed 20 lbs NO3-N/acre following a winter cereal forage harvest may not respond to starter N. Test strips can help improve these decisions over time.

References

Acknowledgements

This 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/

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

February 9, 2018
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on What’s Cropping Up? Volume 28, Number 1 – January/February 2018

What’s Cropping Up? Volume 28, Number 1 – January/February 2018

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe By Email

Get a weekly email of all new posts.

Please prove that you are not a robot.

Skip to toolbar