Can You Cut Nitrogen Rates This Fall Because of the Drought?
This is the time of the year when farmers begin talking with their agronomist's putting together fall fertilization plans. For areas of Minnesota where fall nitrogen applications is a Best Management Practice those plans include a discussion about rates. Nitrate nitrogen is water soluble and typically we do not consider nitrogen carryover being available for the next year. That is why we try and closely manage rates each year. However, with the drought we are still 5 inches below normal rainfall. so, could we consider cutting nitrogen rates this fall?
I called Brad Carlson Soil Scientist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service who specializes in nitrogen management and water quality. Brad said because it was so dry there would likely be some carryover nitrogen in the soil. Some of the nitrogen would be from what was applied, but nitrogen is also mineralized from the organic matter in the soil too.
So, Brad is recommending cutting nitrogen rates for this fall and then taking a nitrate nitrogen test next spring. Then you can asses how much more nitrogen you need to apply in season. Plus, more and more farmers every year are going to split nitrogen applications anyway!
It sure would be nice to be able to cut nitrogen rates because I am hearing nitrogen costs are a lot higher this year compared to last spring and fall. Click on the link and listen to Brad discuss nitrogen carryover and application rates.