Improve ROI of Sidedress Applications This Year

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Sidedress in corn

Corn growers across the Midwest are looking for ways to improve nitrogen use efficiency, which is why sidedressing nitrogen has gained popularity in recent years.  

Splitting up nitrogen applications — applying some in fall or early spring and then more at sidedress — can help mitigate nitrogen loss by giving corn more opportunities to use the nutrient. This practice also offers more availability of labor and equipment since it occurs after planting.

“Most growers still make a primary nitrogen application, but modern nutrient management systems now use two or three nitrogen applications,” says Neil Trygestad, Nutrient Maximizer strategic account manager, Corteva Agriscience. “Many growers are experiencing higher yield by making more nitrogen applications throughout the year.”

But with volatile nitrogen fertilizer prices, it’s more important than ever to implement practices that will provide the best return on your fertilizer investment. To make the most of money spent, you’ll want to apply the right rates at the right time and use a nitrogen stabilizer. 

Start with the right rates

The right amount of fertilizer will help ensure corn has the nutrients it needs when it needs them. You’ll want to avoid overlapping fertilizer to limit unnecessary input costs. This is why soil testing prior to making applications is so important.

Get the timing right

Once you have the rates dialed in, you’ll want to consider the application timing for the best possible crop uptake and utilization. Corn plants require a lot of nitrogen right before the start of their rapid growth stages, which typically occur in June and into July. Therefore, many sidedress applications are made around the V4 or V5 corn growth stage.

For the best results, be sure to sidedress nitrogen sometime between the V3 and V6 stages, to ensure the nutrient is available when nitrogen needs drastically increase around the V7 or V8 stage.

Keep nitrogen in the root zone  

If you’re sidedressing nitrogen, you’re already taking steps to ensure corn has the nutrients it needs at the right time. Unfortunately, even with the best-timed nitrogen applications, this nutrient is susceptible to loss the moment it’s applied.

“The longer you can keep nitrogen in the root zone, the higher your yield potential will be,” Trygestad says. That’s why he recommends protecting all fertilizer applications with a proven nitrogen stabilizer. “Urease inhibitors such as PinnitMax TG tend to be popular at sidedress time,” Trygestad says.

PinnitMax® TG is an above-ground nitrogen stabilizer designed to prevent volatilization of urea and UAN applications for up to 14 days. “This buys you time for mechanical incorporation or a rainfall to move the nitrogen below ground,” he says.

PinnitMax TG can be partnered with below-ground products, such as N-Serve® and Instinct® NXTGEN nitrogen stabilizers, for a complete end-to-end nitrogen management plan. You can use N-Serve to protect anhydrous ammonia and Instinct NXTGEN with UAN. Both solutions can extend nitrogen availability by up to eight weeks.

“Nitrogen stabilizers are easy to incorporate into common sidedress practices, they provide a positive return on investment, and environmentally, it’s the right thing to do,” Trygestad says.

Over 1,000 independent studies verify N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN reduce nitrogen leaching by 16%, increase soil nitrogen retention by 28%, and reduce nitrous oxide emissions or greenhouse gases by 51%.

To put these percentages in perspective, the use of N-Serve and Instinct NXTGEN prevented 3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere in one year. That’s equivalent to the emissions from, roughly, 330 million gallons of gasoline burned. Additionally, the use of these stabilizers over one year prevented about 21 million pounds of nitrogen from entering U.S. waterways.

“We all have to be mindful of our impact on the environment more than ever. Stabilizing sidedress applications with PinnitMax TG, Instinct NXTGEN or N-Serve will increase corn yield and offer the best environmental benefits of any products in the nitrogen stabilizer category,” Trygestad says.

Visit NutrientMaximizers.com to find out more about how these products can improve nitrogen use efficiency at sidedress.

Instinct NXTGEN® and PinnitMax® TG are not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions.