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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Enhancing Corn Production Through the Use of Starter Fertilizer in the Northern Great Plains

Author
item Osborne, Shannon

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 12, 2004
Publication Date: January 15, 2005
Citation: Osborne, S.L. 2005. Enhancing corn production through the use of starter fertilizer in the northern great plains. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis.

Interpretive Summary: The northern Great Plains has environmental conditions that require unique management practices to ensure optimum corn yield and quality. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of starter fertilization on corn yield and quality for both conventional tillage and no-till soil management. A field experiment was established within a two-year corn/soybean rotation. The experiment was carried out for four years (2000-2003). Tillage treatments were either conventional tillage or no-till. Starter fertilizer treatments consisted of two nitrogen sources either ammonium nitrate or urea, each at four rates (0, 7, 14, and 21 lb/ac). These nitrogen starter treatments contained phosphorus and potassium. An additional treatment of no starter fertilizer was also incorporated into the experiment. All fertilizer treatments were present in both tillage treatments. All starter fertilizer was applied at planting in a band 2 inches below and 2 inches to the side of the seed furrow. An additional 75 lb/ac was applied side-dress at the V6 growth stage to all plots. Yield increased in conventional tillage plots compared to no-till plots for the 2002 and 2003 growing seasons. There was an increase in yield with application of starter-nitrogen for all years except 2002, which was very dry and resulted in the lowest yields of all years. The most dramatic yield increase was obtained with the comparison between the no starter treatment and the phosphorus and potassium treatment. Grain quality data revealed that the different tillage treatments affected oil production and nitrogen removal in 2002 and 2003, with conventional tillage higher than no-till. Starter fertilizer with only phosphorus and potassium also increased yield, oil production and nitrogen removal in all years compared to no starter fertilizer treatment. Application of starter fertilizer can have a significant positive impact on yield and quality of corn grown in the northern Great Plains.

Technical Abstract: The northern portion of the Great Plains has environmental conditions that require unique management practices to ensure optimum corn (Zea mays L.) yield and quality. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of starter fertilizer on corn yield and quality for both conventional tillage (CT) and no-till (NT) soil management in the northern Great Plains. A field experiment was established within a two-year corn/soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] rotation, using a split-plot design with four replications. The experiment was carried out for four years (2000-2003). Whole-plot treatments were tillage (NT and CT) with split plot treatments of starter fertilizer. Starter fertilizer treatments consisted of two nitrogen (N) sources either ammonium nitrate (AN) or urea (UR), each at four rates (0, 8, 16, and 24 kg N ha-1). These N starter treatments contained phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). An additional treatment of no starter fertilizer (no N, P or K) was also incorporated into the experiment for both tillage treatments. All starter fertilizer was applied at planting in a band 5 cm below and 5 cm to the side of the seed furrow. An additional 85 kg N ha-1 was applied side-dress at the V6 growth stage to all plots. Yield increased in CT plots compared to NT for the 2002 and 2003 growing seasons. There was a significant increase in yield with application of starter-N for all years except 2002, which was very dry and resulted in the lowest yields of all years. The most dramatic yield increase was obtained with the comparison between the no starter (no N, P or K) treatment and the P and K treatment (no N + P and K). Grain quality data revealed that the different tillage treatments affected oil production and N removal in 2002 and 2003, with CT higher than NT. Starter fertilizer with only P and K also increased yield, oil production and N removal in all years compared to no starter fertilizer treatment. Application of starter fertilizer can have a significant positive impact on yield and quality of corn grown in the northern Great Plains.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014