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Illinois data shows following MRTN rates can help save on costly nitrogen

As nitrogen remains a costly input, farmers can save by following the recommended maximum return to nitrogen rate (MRTN).

Laura Gentry oversees the Precision Conservation Management Program in Illinois and tells Brownfield about 70% of those farmers are applying above the suggested MRTN rate.

“And yet, for seven consecutive years we have found that farmers who are applying within that maximum return to nitrogen range have the most profitable corn fields in our database.”

University of Illinois Farm Management Professor Gary Schnitkey says the current MRTN rate for corn following soybeans is 160 for northern Illinois, 169 for central and 188 for southern Illinois, based on a $5.50 corn price and $12.50 anhydrous ammonia price.

“Those are the profit maximizing levels. If we get above that, we may be getting yield, but the nitrogen costs outweigh that additional yield.”

For farmers who are applying above those levels, Schnitkey suggests decreasing application rates on the 2023 crop to maximize profitability.  

Gentry highlights more research results from the Precision Conservation Management Program in this episode of IL Corn Connection.

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