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In-season N for the win

What can I do to be more profitable? How can I grow more bushels on the acres I’m current­ly farming? Those are a couple of questions many farmers find themselves asking. Having a solid plan for nitrogen inputs and using industry-leading technology such as MFA Nutri-Track N is a good place to start.

There is a growing trend to split nitrogen applications, and I’m definitely a fan. By split-applying N, growers aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket. This practice spreads out the fertilizer investment risk and limits potential nitrogen loss due to many factors we cannot control. Splitting nitrogen applications is also good stewardship because growers are putting the nutrient down at the right time for plant uptake.

In the past, many producers in my area applied most—if not all—of their N in the fall, allowing that to carry them all season long. These producers were managing their farms just like their dad and grand­dad did before them. It also means they were not pushing yields. Now, I see more progressive producers moving away from a single nitrogen application and coming back after the crop is planted with a sidedress or topdress application, typically a flat rate of 40 to 80 pounds of nitro­gen per acre.

This is heading down the correct path, but Nutri-Track N can take it a step further.

MFA’s Nutri-Track N is a com­plete nitrogen management tool. It allows growers and agronomists to put their heads together to come up with the best possible in-season N recommendation on a given acre. This program complements the MFA Nutri-Track system by allow­ing seamless data transfer from one program to another. Soil properties and sample results collected for Nutri-Track flow into the recom­mendation creation process, getting away from generic field averages and factoring each sample point’s data into the recommendation. Examples such as pH and organic matter come to mind. Other factors that go into the creation of these recommen­dations include previous nitrogen applications, tillage practices, plant­ing date, variety maturity, etc.

After entering all the data by field, the Nutri-Track N system figures in local rainfall events to show the effect moisture has on nitrogen ap­plied within that field. With a simple click of a button, a new recommen­dation is generated. After a rainfall event, I like to run a report on a couple of fields for each grower to help monitor what’s going on. This tool allows you to see something that you may have missed by just looking at the fields.

With these reports in hand, grow­ers have options:

  • Follow through with the rec­ommendation provided, only editing it with parameters you feel comfortable with, such as a minimum and maximum rate.
  • Use the data provided to deter­mine a more precise flat-rate option. The Nutri-Track N recommendation can help you make a knowledgeable decision.

After determining when it’s time to apply nitrogen, the recommendation can be exported to any controller. Nutri-Track N also has the ability to generate reports by field to print for MFA or grower record-keeping. After the application is made, we continue to monitor nitrogen throughout the season.

Splitting nitrogen applications in season helps producers in many ways. Spoon-feeding nutrients during key times during plant development will further your input dollar and help mitigate losses due to weather-related events. It also allows the producer to keep up with current market prices and be better stewards of the land.

Talk with your local MFA agron­omist to learn more about what Nutri-Track N can do for you and your operation. We want to help you reach for higher goals and not settle for the same yield year after year.

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