With its variable landscape, low organic matter and susceptibility to wet weather and flooding, the Greenley Memorial Research Center near Novelty, Missouri offers ideal conditions for studying nitrogen (N) loss in the Corn Belt’s persistently challenging growing conditions.
On August 6, 2015 ESN sales representatives, agronomists and growers as well as local media attended a presentation and plot tour conducted by University of Missouri Professor Peter Motavalli and Research Agronomist Dr. Kelly A. Nelson.
Since 2008, the team at the Greenley Memorial Research Center has gathered nearly 60 site years’ worth of data comparing ESN to urea, with ESN demonstrating a 5.7% increase in grain yields over all the environments and cropping systems.
“We get the greatest response in wet soil with low organic matter – this is what we have at the Greenley Memorial Research Center,” shared Dr. Alan Blaylock, agronomist for Nutrien Ltd. “The corn belt is subject to nitrogen loss most years. These are the kind of areas where ESN is a valuable tool.”
Included in this presentation were the results of a study on managing nitrogen fertilizer in temporarily flooded soils to improve corn production and reduce environmental N loss. Injured corn as a result of flooding is a frequent issue in Missouri, with significant crop damage occurring as a result of N deficiencies. During flood conditions, crop N uptake is reduced as a result of low oxygen levels in flooded soils, compounded by increased environmental leaching and denitrification.
The goal of the study was to develop an economically profitable N fertilizer strategy for pre- and post-flood conditions that would increase corn production and decrease environmental N loss.
ESN was tested in comparison to urea and urea with a nitrification inhibitor at different ratios on corn plots exposed to various flood conditions from 2012-2014. Results indicated that average plant N uptake increased with the use of ESN, and at 72 hours of flooding crops treated with ESN demonstrated a yield increase of 12 bu/acre, versus the control. There was also a significant effect of fertilizer sources seen on chlorophyll content, with crops treated with ESN demonstrating the highest chlorophyll content on average.
Graduate Research Assistant Gurpreet Kaur leads a tour of plots where the effects of ESN on temporarily flooded soils are tested.
Much of Dr. Nelson’s work is motivated by 4R stewardship; helping growers in the Corn Belt use the right fertilizer at the right time, in the right place and at the right rate to improve yields and reduce N loss.
“Anytime we’re talking about enhanced efficiency fertilizers we are talking about the 4Rs,” says Dr. Nelson. “Enhanced efficiency is defined as allowing increased plant uptake while reducing nitrogen loss as compared to an appropriate reference product. ESN definitely meets these criteria.”
By reducing environmental N loss, increasing crop N uptake and improving corn yield, ESN is an effective tool in combatting the substantial N loss the Corn Belt is subjected to in most years.