Nitrogen Use in Iowa Corn Production

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2016-05-01
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Sawyer, John
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Extension and Outreach

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach helps carry Iowa State’s land-grant mission beyond campus, to be the university that best serves the citizens of Iowa. With Iowa State University, we embrace the land-grant philosophy of:

  • access to high-quality education
  • research applied to the needs of Iowa, the nation, and world
  • extending knowledge to strengthen Iowa’s economy and citizens’ quality of life
We do that by offering practical, how-to education based on powerful university research. It’s available to any resident of Iowa and is tailored to meet the needs of Iowans, needs we know firsthand. Our educators, specialists, and volunteers live and work in all 99 Iowa counties.

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Agronomy

The Department of Agronomy seeks to teach the study of the farm-field, its crops, and its science and management. It originally consisted of three sub-departments to do this: Soils, Farm-Crops, and Agricultural Engineering (which became its own department in 1907). Today, the department teaches crop sciences and breeding, soil sciences, meteorology, agroecology, and biotechnology.

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The Department of Agronomy was formed in 1902. From 1917 to 1935 it was known as the Department of Farm Crops and Soils.

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1902–present

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  • Department of Farm Crops and Soils (1917–1935)

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Nitrogen is essential for growth and reproduction of crops and is involved in many important plant biochemical processes. Nitrogen management is critical for optimal yields for corn production systems. This publication discusses long-term research done in Iowa and shows corn yields average about 60 bu/acre for continuous corn and 115 bu/acre for corn following soybean when corn is not fertilized. However, corn fertilized with N will easily yield 200 bu/acre or more. This means soil management and nitrogen fertilization practices, such as using economical optimum N rates, should be used to help optimize crop yields, use N efficiently, and enhance water quality.

The regional Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator website, which has been helping farmers determine profitable nitrogen rates since 2005, can be found at: cnrc.agron.iastate.edu. This tool provides a process to calculate economic return to N application with different nitrogen and corn prices and to find profitable N rates directly from recent N rate research data. Using the Maximum Return to Nitrogen concept within the calculator helps farmers implement the most economical nitrogen rate inputs, which helps moderate water quality issues.

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