Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL AND CROP MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS FOR IMPROVED NATURAL RESOURCE QUALITY AND EFFICIENCY

Location: North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory

Title: Nitrogen fertilizer applications to corn after alfalfa: grain yield, kernel composition, and plant mineral nutrients

Author
item RIEDELL, WALTER

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 6, 2012
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Citation: Riedell, W.E. 2012. Nitrogen fertilizer applications to corn after alfalfa: grain yield, kernel composition, and plant mineral nutrients. p. 148-153. In: A. Schlegel and H.D. Bond (eds.) Proceedings of the Great Plains Soil Fertility Conference, Denver CO, March 6-7, 2012. International Plant Nutrition Institute.

Interpretive Summary: Farmers often apply nitrogen fertilizer to corn after alfalfa at rates greater than needed to attain maximum yields. Little is known about other potential benefits of N fertilizer applications to corn after alfalfa. Experimental objectives were to investigate the impact of N fertilizer rates to first year corn after alfalfa on corn stalk dry weight, grain yield and kernel composition as well as on stalk and grain mineral concentrations. Experimental results indicated that increasing N fertilizer rates to corn after alfalfa resulted in the luxury consumption of N in stalks of corn at the tassel development stage. Increased N fertilizer rates did not translate into increased grain yield. Yields of protein, oil, starch, P, and K kernel components, expressed on a pounds per acre basis, were also unaffected by increased N fertilizer rates. Thus, there appears to be no advantage of applying N fertilizer to corn after alfalfa under the environment experienced and the yield potential realized during this 2 year experiment.

Technical Abstract: Nitrogen (N) fertilizers are often applied to first year corn (Zea mays L.) after alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) at rates greater than needed to attain maximum yields. However, little is known about other potential benefits of N fertilizer applications to corn after alfalfa. This two-year field experiment examined the effects of N fertilizer treatments (no N fertilizer, 73 kg N ha-1, or 135 kg N ha-1) on corn stalk dry weight and mineral concentrations (N, P, and K) at the tassel development stage, as well as on grain yield and kernel components (protein, oil, starch, P, and K) in corn after alfalfa at Brookings, SD. Fertilizer N increased stalk N concentration but did not increase stalk dry weight. Grain yields were not affected by N fertilizer treatments. Thus, luxury consumption of N by stalks at the tassel stage did not result in grain yield benefits. Yields of protein, oil, starch, P, and K kernel components, expressed on a kg ha-1 basis, were also unaffected by increasing N fertilizer rates. In conclusion, there appears to be no advantage, in terms of yield or kernel components, in applying N fertilizer to corn after alfalfa under the environment experienced and the yield potential realized during this field experiment.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page