By Greg Clark, Field Research Agronomist
From an agronomic and economic advantage, and the core driver for crop enhancement over the last century has been yield. The competing difficulties of escalating corn yields to feed a growing population, while decreasing nitrogen (N) fertilizer use and loss to the environment presents a challenge to growers and requires accomplishing improved N use efficiency (NUE) in corn.
A study was initiated in spring 2017 to study the effects of carbon-based fertilizer (BOOST™, 4-0-3-2S) when added to 32% Urea Ammonium Nitrate (UAN) under several fertility management scenarios on corn yield, quality, and return on investment (ROI). The specific objectives of the experiment were to 1) evaluate the effects of BOOST™ when mixed with 32% UAN at various rates on corn yield and corn quality, and 2) determine if any observed results of BOOST™ when combined with UAN, were impacted by fertility management program, especially improvements in NUE.
The experiment was conducted at the Precision Agriculture Research station near Clarion, Iowa. The trial over the three years (2017-2019) was designed as a randomized complete block design with six blocks. Each block measured fifty-feet long by ten feet wide and was separated by five-foot wide alleys. The corn plots were side-dressed at the V6 corn stage for all three years.
BOOST™ is a cane molasses-based product (30%+ sugar) with a fermentation yeast extract. BOOST™ also contains chemistry (e.g. Urea, Ammonium Sulfate, Sulfuric Acid), thus designed to stimulate biological activity and enhance nutrient cycling in soils.
The BOOST™ and UAN treatments were the same from 2017-2019 and were as follows:
|BOOST + UAN 32%||1.5 + 15 gals/acre|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||1.5 + 13 gals/acre †|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||3+15 gals/acre|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||3+ 12 gals/acre Ŧ|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||2 + 20 gals/acre|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||2 + 18 gals/acre †|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||2.5 + 25 gals/acre|
|BOOST + UAN 32%||2.5 + 22.5 gals/acre †|
|UAN 32%||15 gals/acre|
|UAN 32%||20 gals/acre|
|UAN 32%||25 gals/acre|
|† 10% of UAN was taken out when BOOST™ was added.|
|Ŧ 20% of UAN was taken out when BOOST™ was added.|
It is apparent that over the last three years, BOOST™ tank-mixed with 32% UAN at an inclusion rate of ten-percent during side-dress application (at V6) demonstrated an improvement in corn’s height, stalk diameter, yield, along with achieving a higher Return on Investment (ROI).
The three-year study also demonstrated NUE, Table 1. Higher yields were achieved when less N was used at side-dressing. BOOST™ works symbiotically to directly support the health and productivity of the soil by feeding soil microbes, thus assisting with nutrient cycling.