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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tillage System, Fertilizer Nitrogen Rate and Timing Effect on Corn Yields in the Texas Blackland Prairie

Authors
item Torbert, Henry
item Potter, Kenneth
item Morrison Jr, John

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2001
Publication Date: September 20, 2001
Citation: Torbert, H.A., Potter, K.N., Morrison Jr., J.E. Tillage system, fertilizer nitrogen rate and timing effect on corn yields in the Texas Blackland Prairie. Agronomy Journal. 2001. v. 93. p. 1119-1124.

Interpretive Summary: Because of problems with erosion, research has been conducted to develop conservation tillage systems to improve agricultural sustainability on the Blackland Prairie of Texas. Because fertilizer N is one on the most expensive parts of crop production, part of this effort entailed examining the effects of fertilizer N management in this region. In 1994, an experiment was established to determine the N fertility plant response as affected by different rates of N fertilizer and different times for fertilizer N application within different tillage systems. Plant samples were collected for grain yield, biomass production, and N uptake in corn crop in four different years. In wet years, fertilizer N application up to 168 kg ha**-1 increased corn yields, and application during the fall resulted in as much as 30 percent average reduction in yield compared with fertilizer application at planting. The best yields were observed with the no tillage system, with large differences observed between tillage systems in a drought year.

Technical Abstract: An effort was undertaken to develop N management and conservation tillage systems to improve agricultural sustainability on the Blackland Prairie of Texas. In 1994, an experiment was established to determine the N fertility plant response as affected by N fertilizer rate and timing within different tillage systems. A split plot experiment with 4 replications was established on a Houston Black (Fine, smectitic, thermic Udic Haplusterts) soil. The main plots were chisel tillage and no tillage planted on permanent raised wide beds. The subplots were eight different soil fertility treatments, with different fertility rates (0-168 kg N ha**-1) and application timing (fall, at planting, and split application). To determine the impact of wide beds, the fertility treatments were also conducted on chisel tillage system without wide beds. The experimental treatments were imposed on corn (Zea mays L.) each year for four years. Plant samples were collected for grain yield, biomass production, and N uptake. With corn in wet years, fertilizer N application up to 168 kg ha**-1 increased yields, and application during the fall resulted in as much as 30 percent average reduction in yield compared with fertilizer application at planting, but no advantage to split application was observed. The best yields were observed with the no tillage system, with large differences observed between tillage systems in a drought year.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014