A new study suggests in-season nitrogen monitoring can reduce overall fertilizer use
Many producers currently base nitrogen fertilizer applications on the results of soil nitrate tests. According to a recent article in the Soil Science Society of America Journal, farmers can reduce in-season nitrogen use for irrigated crops without sacrificing yield potential by using commercially available nitrogen sensing tools.
The typical spring soil nitrate tests do not account for nitrate loss or gain between soil sampling and planting, notes Kevin Bronson, associate professor of soil fertility and nutrient management with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. His study suggests in-season monitoring may lead to more accurate nitrogen fertilizer recommendations. Bronson led an interdisciplinary team of scientists to test in-season nitrogen using monitoring tools at two irrigated west Texas cotton sites in 2000 and 2001.
Based on spectroradiometer and chlorophyll meter readings, the team applied 30 pounds per acre of nitrogen in-season to their plots when indicated at early squaring, early bloom and peak bloom.
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