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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING ALFALFA AND OTHER FORAGE CROPS FOR BIOENERGY, LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION, AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION Title: Alfalfa N credits to second-year corn larger than expected

Authors
item Russelle, Michael
item Yost, Matt -
item Morris, Thomas -
item Coulter, Jeffrey -

Submitted to: Forage Focus
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 14, 2013
Publication Date: December 1, 2013
Citation: Russelle, M.P., Yost, M.A., Morris, T.F., Coulter, J.A. 2013. Alfalfa N credits to second-year corn larger than expected. Forage Focus. December issue. p. 4-5.

Technical Abstract: Alfalfa can provide substantial amounts of nitrogen (N) to the first crop that follows it. Recent field research on first-year corn confirms that it is highly likely that grain yields will not improve with added fertilizer N, except on very sandy and very clayey soils. It is less clear how much fertilizer N is needed for second-year corn after alfalfa termination. In about one-half of the cases in field trials conducted in Iowa and Minnesota, the second crop of corn showed no grain yield response to fertilizer N. In the other cases, maximum yields were obtained with N rates ranging from about 40 to 165 lb N/acre. Literature reports substantiated these findings. We also found direct evidence that, about half of the time, neither first- or second-year corn required additional N to achieve economically optimum yields. Remarkably, growing alfalfa in the rotation reduced the fertilizer bill by about $165 per acre for the two corn crops. The next step in this research will be to create ways to predict which fields of second-year corn need N and how much should be applied.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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