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Fixing Seeding Misses - Nitrogen

By: Ken Panchuk, PAg, Provincial Specialist - Soils

June 19, 2017 photo of a wheat field.
Something went wrong with the nitrogen
fertilizer metering system, likely a blockage
that went unnoticed for a while. 
During the spring rush to get the crop in on time, zero-till seeding equipment generally works flawlessly because of design and sophisticated electronic metering and flow sensors. Things do happen from time to time, however, potentially resulting in small misses of various inputs that can serve as valuable check strips. But what do you do when the miss becomes large enough to affect economics?

Nitrogen is the macronutrient needed in the largest amount for optimum crop yield and quality. A nitrogen miss several passes in length can add up to several acres and lots of yield loss. Producers today have plenty of flexibility in equipment and selection of input products that allow for fixes of serious misses, once the cause of the difference in crop pattern is properly diagnosed.

High clearance sprayers on farms today allow for higher rates of nitrogen, such as UAN, 28-0-0 liquid nitrogen, to be dribble banded to correct misses, nitrogen deficiencies, and improvement in quality, such as boosting protein in bread wheat.

The key to rescuing a crop affected by a nitrogen miss is to take action early and at the right rate to capture as much yield and quality as possible and to bring the crop back to uniform maturity for the harvest operation. The rate of nitrogen for the rescue treatment will need to be similar to the rate used at seeding. Also, if there is no rain in the forecast for a few days, use Agrotain, a urease inhibitor. Agrotain protects the urea fraction of the UAN from volatilization losses while waiting for the rain to move the nitrogen into the soil for access by the crop, minimizing further losses. 

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