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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Columbia, Missouri » Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #378470

Research Project: Sustainable Intensification of Cropping Systems on Spatially Variable Landscapes and Soils

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: A new approach for balancing the economic and environmental outcomes for crop nitrogen fertilization

item Kitchen, Newell
item Ransom, Curtis
item SCHEPERS, JAMES - University Of Nebraska
item HOLLAND, KYLE - Holland Scientific

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2020
Publication Date: 11/9/2020
Citation: Kitchen, N.R., Ransom, C.J., Schepers, J.S., Holland, K.H. 2020. A new approach for balancing the economic and environmental outcomes for crop nitrogen fertilization [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts, Nov 9-13, 2020, virtual meeting. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Current tools for making crop N fertilizer rate recommendations primarily based on plot and field studies are founded on or are tested against the economic optimal N rate (EONR). Some tools rely entirely on localized EONR (e.g., Maximum Return to Nitrogen (MRTN) tool). In recent years, tools have been developed or adapted to account for within-field variation in crop N need or variable within-season factors. Separately, attention has increased for how N fertilizer rates affect the environment. Efficiently using plant-available N from any source (fertilizer, manure, irrigation water, and mineralization) is a challenge because nitrate is soluble in water, and thus is subject to losses via runoff from agricultural fields and leaching through porous soils. In addition, N can be lost from waterlogged soils via denitrification. One suggested way to consider the impact of N fertilizer on the environment is through crop N use efficiency (NUE). Some studies indicate global NUE is only about 30 to 40%, which implies that fertilizer N amounts are more than twice that of N contained in the grain. The question raised is how should N fertilizer recommendations balance economics (i.e., producer income) and the environment (i.e., public interests). The objective of this paper will be to provide a new approach for integrating NUE into corn N fertilizer recommendations and provide a better balance between economic and environmental outcomes. Data from several regional projects will be used to illustrate the impact of soil texture and management practices on this new approach.