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Nitrogen Fertilization Brings More Bang for the Buck

Nitrogen Fertilization Brings More Bang for the Buck

By Andrew Joseph,

Ever wonder what the secret formula is for a best-in-class Nitrogen fertilization program?

PTI (Precision Technology Institute) did, and over the past several years has been testing and experimenting at its 400-acre research farm in Pontiac, Illinois.

While it isn’t claiming to have found the greatest thing since sliced bread, it did offer its own findings for corn and soybean growth via live teleconference to a rapt audience at the sixth annual 2021 Great Ontario Yield Tour.  

With 34 years farming experience, speaker Jason Webster is a certified crop advisor and precision planting commercial agronomist, and is the director at the PTI test farm where its Nitrogen application techniques and recipes showed a marked increase of net revenue grain per acre that farmers everywhere will want to replicate.

Webster said that PTI’s research showed impressive making it a tremendous agronomic recommendation for them.

We all know that Nitrogen is plentiful in the air, but crops are unable to utilize and instead rely on ground-based application of fertilizer.

Nitrogen plays an important role with enzymes in photosynthesis, ergo if a plant does not have enough Nitrogen, it affects photosynthesis, a shorter leaf lifespan and reduced leaf size which means les food for the plant. Bottom line of not enough Nitrogen is lower yields.

How to grow better crops, increase yield and grow revenues? Webster’s PTI research offered a solution. Running Dual Band, it used a fertilizer recipe that featured Nitrogen, but also included other chemicals such as Potassium, Sulphur and Boron.

“Yes, it (the fertility process) is more management; yes, it is more time, and more labour,” said Webster, “but it does give us more bushels.”

The test utilized Conceal Fertility Placement—a knife placed within the gauge wheel of the planter that enables the farmer to do a single or a double band. PTI research showed the double band was best.

“We go about 1-1/2-inches deep, just enough to get that Nitrogen into the soil,” explained Webster. “And then we use the gauge wheel to collapse that trench where we have applied the Nitrogen to seal the product.”

He said that for corn they applied it shallow to no more than 2-inches of plant depth.

While Webster estimated that only about 20-percent of farmers queried were applying Nitrogen on a plant, he wondered what they were using for application: Conceal – 27-percent; Dribble out the back – 18-percent; Closing wheel in-between – 9-percent; Typical 2 x 2 system – 45-percent.

He said that the placement of the Nitrogen fertilizer played a huge role in plant yields. PTI’s own research has determined that adding a hit of Nitrogen on two sides of the plant and 1-1/2-inches deep has worked best, so far—providing better results than 2x2, 2x0 or via Pop-up In-furrow (pop-up fertilizer is applied in-furrow with the seed).

“It’s a luxury consumption,” noted Webster, “making it more accessible for the plant to utilize than with other starter fertilizer placements.”

He noted that according to PTI’s results based on 2020 crop yield when compared to fields not utilizing a nitrogen fertilizer plan, an additional 19.4 bushels/acre-plus was achieved in corn yield, with a 50-percent Weed0N-Feed and 50-poercent Side-Dress combination. On top of that, using a 50-percent Conceal Dual plus 50-percent Side Dress provided an additional 7.3 bushels pre acre more than the other recipe, while a 25-percent Weed-N-Feed plus 25-percent Conceal plus 50-percent Side-Dress garnered even more gains.

Most farmers use Side-Dress for yield, pointed out Webster, but when Nitrogen was added, additional yield was gained.

A different test comparing Dual Band Conceal UAN to Broadcast UAN with 32-percent Nitrogen concluded that although Broadcast produced smaller ears, the corn had more kernels. However, Conceal had more ear weight.

Webster said that utilizing a Triple Split Conceal Nitrogen over a non-nitrogen field provided a US$106.50 (~CDN$136.50) ROI per acre.        

“The program has been tested again and again,” stated Webster, “and it has proven to be the safest and given us the highest (corn) yield and the highest economics.”

 As for whether farmers should use a Single or Dual Band Nitrogen application, Webster noted that the Dual Band showed in 2019 and 2020, an increase of 7.1 bushels per acre, and that it provided an additional US$26.27 (~CDN$33.66) per acre.   

Watch the video below to learn more—including results of PTI’s soybean yields—and to learn what recipe was used by Webster to achieve the impressive crop results.

For more information, contact at:
Twitter: @JWebsterAG
T: 815-584-6511
Website for Precision Planting LLC:

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