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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340462

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Grain and Biomass Cropping Systems using a Landscape-Based GxExM Approach

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: A public-industry partnership for enhancing corn nitrogen research and datasets: project description, methodology, and outcomes

Author
item Kitchen, Newell
item SHANAHAN, J - Fortigen
item RANSOM, C - University Of Missouri
item BANDURA, C - University Of Wisconsin
item BEAN, G - University Of Missouri
item CAMBERATO, J - Purdue University
item CARTER, P - Dupont Pioneer Hi-Bred
item CLARK, J - University Of Minnesota
item FERGUSON, R - University Of Nebraska
item FERNANDEZ, F - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/13/2017
Publication Date: 9/7/2017
Citation: Kitchen, N.R., Shanahan, J.F., Ransom, C.J., Bandura, C.J., Bean, G.M., Camberato, J.J., Carter, P.R., Clark, J.D., Ferguson, R.B., Fernandez, F.G. 2017. A public-industry partnership for enhancing corn nitrogen research and datasets: project description, methodology, and outcomes. Agronomy Journal. 109(5):2371-2388. doi:10.2134/agronj2017.04.0207.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2017.04.0207

Interpretive Summary: Inefficient use of nitrogen fertilizer when growing corn has profound economic and environmental consequences. Growers have become more educated to these consequences and seem eager to have user-friendly tools to assist them in their fertilizer decisions. But unless these tools are scientifically-proven with field experimentation and validation, the experience of growers can lead to skepticism and rejection. While a wide variety of tools are available to farmers for making nitrogen decisions, many of them have not been tested side-by-side over a wide geographic range of soil and weather conditions. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the performance of nitrogen decision tools across diverse soils and environmental conditions, develop and publish new agronomic science for improved crop nitrogen management, and train new scientists. The project was initiated in a partnership between eight US Midwest land-grant universities, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and DuPont Pioneer. Research using a standardized protocol was conducted during the 2014 through 2016 growing seasons, yielding a total of 49 sites. The geographic scope, scale, and unique collaborative arrangement warrant documenting details of this work. The purpose of this paper is to describe how the research was undertaken, reasons for the research methods, and the project’s potential value. Preliminary observations of soil and crop variables measured in the project from each site revealed differences in soil properties (e.g., soil texture and soil organic matter) as well as differences in agronomic and economic responses to applied nitrogen fertilizer. The project has generated a valuable dataset across a wide array of weather and soils that allows investigators to perform robust evaluation of nitrogen decision tools. If fertilizer can be better recommended and matched with crop need, farmers will profit more because fertilizer nutrients will be more efficiently used by crops. Further, fertilizer loss to the environment will be reduced, thus helping to protect soil, water, and air resources.

Technical Abstract: Due to economic and environmental consequences of nitrogen (N) lost from fertilizer applications in corn (Zea mays L.), considerable public and industry attention has been devoted to development of N decision tools. Now a wide variety of tools are available to farmers for managing N inputs. However, research is needed over a wide geographic range of soil and weather scenarios for evaluating tool performance. The objectives of this research were to conduct standardized corn N rate response field studies to evaluate the performance of multiple public-domain N decision tools across diverse soils and environmental conditions, develop and publish new agronomic science for improved crop N management, and train new scientists. The project was initiated in a partnership between eight US Midwest land-grant universities, USDA Agricultural Research Service, and DuPont Pioneer. Research using a standardized protocol was conducted during the 2014 through 2016 growing seasons, yielding a total of 49 sites. The geographic scope, scale, and unique collaborative arrangement warrant documenting details of this work. The purpose of this paper is to describe how the research was undertaken, reasons for the research methods, and the project’s potential value. Preliminary observations of soil and crop variables measured in the project from each site revealed differences in soil properties (e.g., texture and organic matter) as well as differences in agronomic and economic responses to applied N. The project has generated a valuable dataset across a wide array of weather and soils that allows investigators to perform robust evaluations of N use in corn and N decision tools.