N-Rich Strips

Speaker 1: Hello everyone, and welcome to Sunup. I’m Lyndall Stout. We begin today with the wheat crop, and some tools to help out producers with their input costs. Here’s Sunup’s Austin Moore.
Speaker 2: What I hear across the state is you’re up in Ottawa County. That’s the county that gets all the rain. Yeah, we are blessed with a little bit more rain probably than everybody else, but we’re still in pretty serious condition.
Speaker 3: In Ottawa County, Extension Ag and 4H Educator Jeff Parmley gave me a rundown on their drought situation.
Speaker 2: We ended up the year short of moisture just like everyone else. We’re actually behind a little bit right now. The rains we have has been very timely and kind of hit right when everything needed it.
Speaker 3: Parmley joined me on a visit to Brent Rendel’s farm, just outside Miami, Oklahoma.
Speaker 4: We were in this same condition last year, and I had what I would consider a complete failure on corn and about a half failure on my soybeans.
Speaker 3: Really?
Speaker 4: We can go from great conditions to really bad in a hurry. The nice thing is, we’re entering winter, going to enter in spring at a pretty decent shape.
Speaker 3: Taking advantage of that condition is why we’re here. I wanted to look at what Rendel is using to make the most of his wheat stand. You’ve got a couple of N- Rich Strips you want to show us today. This is the first one, and I’m sorry, other than this flag right here, I don’t see it.
Speaker 4: That is exactly right. This flag marks the starting point going for about 300 feet that direction, 10 feet wide where I applied 150 pounds of nitrogen shortly after planting.
Speaker 3: Okay.
Speaker 4: The rest of this field only got what I put down at planting, which was 25 pounds of nitrogen.
Speaker 3: Okay.
Speaker 4: You’d say, “Well if you put down 150 pounds of nitrogen more than the rest of the field, where is it?” The answer is, it doesn’t need it.
Speaker 3: Right, plant’s not using it.
Speaker 4: The plant’s not using it. This wheat was planted on a failed corn crop. Last year’s corn got plenty of nitrogen and then didn’t use it. As the stalks break down and everything starts mineralizing, you start recapturing some nitrogen. The question is, how much?
Speaker 3: Right.
Speaker 4: The only way to know that is by putting out a nitrogen-rich strip. You can use a Green Seeker and optically sense the difference, or you can use your own eye and look at it. Me looking at this, I don’t see any difference. The truth, though, is we can see what the Green Seeker says and it’ll tell us what the difference is between here and right over there.
Speaker 3: We took a walk, holding the sensor nice and level; one reading walking the length of the enriched strip, and a second walking the same distance on an untreated portion of the field. As we expect here, the numbers look pretty consistent.
Speaker 4: The numbers are very consistent. There’s a little bit lower number here, but certainly nothing out of the ordinary. Let off the trigger, and it gives me an average of .79. I’ve had .81 there and I’ve got a .79 here. There’s actually a computer program then that I can go in on the nitrogen utilization efficiency website and I can plug those two numbers in along with the planting date for this variety, and it will tell me whether or not I need to add any nitrogen and how much I should add.
Speaker 3: Very good. Let’s go over and take a look at this other field, the one that you say there’s a very clear N-Rich strip.
Speaker 4: Exactly, a mile and a half straight east of here, we’ll go to another field and you’re going to see something completely different.
Speaker 3: All right, so here we really can see a very dramatic difference. As we step off the N-Rich strip, it’s a lot thinner … a lot fuller, lusher wheat here.
Speaker 4: That’s right. In a good growing a season like this we’ve had to date, it’s a little harder to tell but I mean if you look at it, especially from a distance, you can really see the difference here. I tell you what, when you go to the Green Seeker, it’s even more obvious. The last field that we were at, the difference between my heavy nitrogen area and the rest of the field was only a difference of .02.
Speaker 3: Right.
Speaker 4: Here, the difference between one and the other one is .12. Now, those numbers really don’t mean a whole lot until you start getting into the nitrogen system. Basically it means in the last field we were in, which is the exact same variety, under the exact same rotation, with the exact same fertility program, no top grass nitrogen was required. Here, one and a half miles difference, one day planting difference, this field needs 50 pounds of nitrogen per acre.
Speaker 3: What does that mean to you in terms of savings and your operation?
Speaker 4: Well in the last field, I’m going to save 3,000 dollars versus what I would normally do. In this field, I’m still going to apply some nitrogen, but I’m not going to apply anywhere near the thumb rule rate of two pounds per acre per bushel of yield goal. Normally on a field like this, I’d be top dressing it at about 75 pounds of nitrogen per acre. As I said, this one’s going to end up with about 50.
Speaker 3: You’re saving money even here where you’re going to put it out.
Speaker 4: Even here where I’m going to put it out. I’ve looked at the data over the last … Basically I’ve been doing the Green Seeker program for almost 10 years now. My average savings is between 12 and 18 dollars per acre on wheat.
Speaker 5: Nitrogen fertilizer rivals land cost on total inputs in most farming systems. The only other one that may come in is diesel cost. Nitrogen and fertilizer inputs are one of the highest inputs that an average producer deals with.
Speaker 3: Brian Arnall is an extension soil nutrient specialist with Oklahoma State University. He explains that even in this dry year, the nitrogen situation across our state remains field by field.
Speaker 5: First we look at how much pre-plant was put down with the seed. If there wasn’t any pre-plant nitrogen put down, I’m still giving a recommendation, let’s put down some nitrogen, just to make sure that crop has something unless we’re near already a loss. If there’s still potential in it, get some down. Because of the lack of rain, because of the lack of tillering in many locations, we’re reducing that nitrogen rate. What we’re trying to avoid is this overfertilization when we know the likelihood of getting the maximum yield is just not there this year. Reducing the inputs this year to save on that a little bit, but still make sure that there’s something there for these rains that we do get, just to make sure that we aren’t losing the potential yield.
Speaker 3: Arnall has advice on how to fertilize as well.
Speaker 5: Getting in front of the rain is important if we’re using urea. If we’re going with liquid, streamer nozzles are always preferred to get better soil-to-fertilizer contact. It is possible to go with a flat fan if you’re mixing in a herbicide.
Speaker 3: All important advice, because this year controlling costs may be the key to profit. For Sunup, I’m Austin Moore.