Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Nitrogen and Tillage Effects on Irrigated Continuous Corn Yields

Authors
item HALVORSON, ARDELL
item Mosier, A - U OF FL/GAINESVILLE
item Reule, Curtis
item Bausch, Walter

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 8, 2005
Publication Date: January 3, 2006
Citation: Halvorson, A.D., Mosier, A.R., Reule, C.A., Bausch, W.C. 2006. Nitrogen and tillage effects on irrigated continuous corn yields. Agronomy Journal. 98:63-71.

Interpretive Summary: A no-till (NT) irrigated corn production has potential to reduce soil erosion, fossil fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions compared with a conventional till (CT) system. Nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate and tillage system (CT and NT) effects on irrigated, continuous corn yields were evaluated for 5-yr to determine the viability of the NT system and N needs for optimum yield. Corn grain yields were increased by N fertilization each year in both tillage systems, with a 16% higher average yield in the CT than in the NT system at maximum yield. Grain yields were maximized with an available N level of 276 and 268 kg N ha-1 in the CT and NT systems, respectively. Nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency tended to decrease with increasing N rate. Nitrogen required to produce one Mg grain at maximum yield was 19 and 20 kg N Mg-1 grain for the CT and NT systems, respectively. Corn residue increased with increasing N rate with no difference in residue production between CT and NT systems. The NT system had the same size plant for grain production as the CT system. Lower grain yields with NT probably resulted from the slow early spring development of the corn plant compared with CT system as a result of cooler spring soil temperatures in the NT system. No-till continuous corn production appears to have potential for replacing CT systems in the central Great Plains area, but with a reduced yield potential. Corn in both NT and CT systems responded similarly to available N supply. Current N fertilizer recommendations for CT corn based on yield goal may need to be modified for NT to account for the lower yield potential and slightly higher N requirement.

Technical Abstract: A no-till (NT) irrigated production system has potential to reduce soil erosion, fossil fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions compared with a conventional till (CT) system. Nitrogen fertilization (4 to 6 N rates) and tillage system (CT and NT) effects on irrigated, continuous corn (Zea mays L.) yields were evaluated for 5-yr on a clay loam soil to determine the viability of the NT system and N needs for optimum yield. Corn grain yields were significantly increased by N fertilization each year in both tillage systems, with a 16% higher average yield in the CT than in the NT system at maximum yield. Grain yields were near maximum with an available N (soil + fertilizer N) level of 276 and 268 kg N ha-1 in the CT and NT systems, respectively. Nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency (NFUE) tended to decrease, but not always significantly, with increasing N rate, averaging 43% over N rates and years for both systems. Total N required to produce one Mg grain at maximum yield averaged 19 and 20 kg N Mg-1 grain for the CT and NT systems, respectively. Corn residue returned to the soil increased with increasing N rate with no difference in residue production between tillage systems. The NT system had the same size plant for grain production as the CT system. The lower grain yield with NT probably resulted from the slow early spring development and delayed tasseling compared with the CT system as a result of cooler spring soil temperatures in the NT system. NT, irrigated, continuous corn production has potential for replacing CT systems in the central Great Plains area, but with reduced yield potential. Corn in both NT and CT systems responded similarly to available N supply. Current N fertilizer recommendations for CT corn based on yield goal may need to be modified for NT to account for the lower yield potential.

Last Modified: 8/27/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page