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Fertility needs in high-yielding corn production
Date:4/18/2013

utrient accumulation. Synchronizing fertilizer applications with periods of maximum nutrient uptake is critical to achieving the best fertilizer use efficiency."

Jason Haegele, another co-author of the paper and post-doctoral research associate at the U of I added, "Although macro- and micronutrients are both essential for plant growth and development, two major aspects of plant nutrition are important to better determine which nutrients require the greatest attention: the amount of a nutrient needed for production, or total uptake, and the amount of that nutrient that accumulates in the grain."

Study results indicated that high amounts of nitrogen (N), potassium (K), P, and S are needed, with applications made during key growth stages to maximize crop growth. Moreover, adequately accounting for nutrients with high harvest index values the proportion of total nutrient uptake present in corn grain), such as N, P, S, and Zn, which are removed from production fields via the grain, is vital to maintaining long-term soil productivity.

In Illinois, it is common to apply all the P in a corn-soybean rotation prior to the corn production year.

"Although farmers in Illinois fertilize, on average, approximately 93 pounds of P2O5 per acre for corn, the estimated 80 percent of soybean fields receiving no additional phosphorus would have only 13 pounds per acre remaining for the following year's soybean production," said Fred Below, professor of crop physiology. "Not only is this inadequate for even minimal soybean yield goals, but these data suggest a looming soil fertility crisis if fertilizer usage rates are not adjusted as productivity increases."

Integration of new findings will allow producers to match plant nutritional needs with the right nutrient source and right rate applied at the right time and right place. The same team of scientists is collaborating on a follow-up study investigating the seasonal patterns of nutrien
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Contact: Susan Jongeneel
sjongene@illinois.edu
217-333-3291
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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