Soybean profitability and yield component response to nitrogen fertilizer in Iowa

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2020
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Córdova, S. Carolina
Archontoulis, Sotirios V.
Licht, Mark
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© 2020 The Authors
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Licht, Mark
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Agronomy
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Agronomy
Abstract
Nitrogen fertilizer application to soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] in Iowa, USA, has shown inconsistent results. We performed a study in central Iowa (2015 and 2016) to investigate the effect of N fertilizer rate (0, 45, 90, 135 kg N ha−1) and application timing (planting, flowering, pod setting) on soybean yield, yield components, and to calculate the economic net return to N fertilizer. Results showed a positive effect of N fertilizer on soybean yield and yield components both years. Seed and aboveground biomass dry weight were positively correlated to N fertilizer, and both were 17% greater than No-N treatment. Nitrogen fertilizer rate that significantly increased seed and aboveground biomass was 135 kg N ha−1 regardless of application timing (2015), or at planting (2016). Moreover, the same N fertilizer addition applied at planting benefitted seed and aboveground biomass N accumulation only in 2016 (avg. 32.00 and 34.68 g N uptake m−2, respectively), both 1.5-times higher than No-N treatment. Favorable environmental conditions during 2016 lead to hand-measured yield difference of 22% compared to 2015. Economic net return analysis showed that the additional revenue from increased yield attributed to supplemental N fertilization offset the application cost, resulting in net return gains between US$5.83 to $281.89 ha−1 (all treatments except 45 kg N ha−1 on 2015). This study highlights the importance to parse out soybean yield in its components, and the need to quantify yield gains from N fertilizer additions in economic terms which shed some light on any tradeoffs.
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This article is published as Córdova, S. Carolina, Sotirios V. Archontoulis, and Mark A. Licht. "Soybean profitability and yield component response to nitrogen fertilizer in Iowa." Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment 3, no. 1 (2020): e20092. doi:10.1002/agg2.20092. Posted with permission. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
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