Balancing Corn Yield Goals and N Fertilization Rates
Establishing realistic yield goals is essential for environmentally and economically sustainable crop production. It is also important because many of the variable inputs, including fertilizer N rates, are often based upon those goals. If yield goals are beyond what uncontrollable factors such as rainfall can support, many controllable inputs such as N fertilizer will probably be used at rates in excess of crop needs. This scenario will result in reduced nutrient recovery, decreased profitability or return on fertilizer investment, and an increased potential for N loss to groundwater resources. If yield goals are set too low, crop nutrient needs may be underestimated leading to loss of yield, quality, and profit.