N credits a silver lining to Corn Belt drought

An extension fertilizer specialist suggests there could be a silver lining to drought conditions that have plagued the Corn Belt. 

Brad Carlson with the University of Minnesota says the coming crop year provides an interesting opportunity for farmers looking to scale back on input costs.

“What we found through research over the years is following an extraordinarily dry year, we’ll end up accumulating nitrates in the soil profile. To some extent it would be unused fertilizer, which of course could only be used if you’re growing corn on corn.”

Speaking to Brownfield at the MN Ag Expo in Mankato, Minnesota Wednesday, he says soil mineralizes nitrogen, and when its dry nutrients are suspended.

“And so while we don’t normally think about there being carryover nitrogen or taking a credit for nitrogen in the soil like you would with phosphorous or potassium when you soil test, that is an opportunity this coming year again on account of how dry it was.”

Carlson recommends a two-foot soil nitrate test that could lead to reducing nitrogen rates.

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