Brian Knapp, Regional Sales Agronomist IA MO
Nitrogen Use Efficiency or NUE, has been a focal point in corn production for many years. How to get more out of the applied nitrogen dollar has created different approaches to applying nitrogen (N) including split applications throughout the growing season. More and more we see N being applied at additional passes besides just in the fall and or spring ahead of planting. Farmers have more interest in banding N with the planter, corn growers could potentially apply a couple side-dress N passes, and also many are performing foliar N applications at various trips across the field. As we are all aware this is done to try to spread out the N applications to have N available when the plant needs it and therefore improve the use of the nitrogen we are applying. Is there more that can be done? Absolutely!
QLF Agronomy has had a focused research effort on improving NUE by adding Liquid Carbon-Based Fertilizer—BOOST to liquid nitrogen programs (UAN28-32%). BOOST works well with UAN in ALL applications, including in season side-dressing. The NUE research started back in the year 2015 at Real Farm Research in Aurora, Nebraska. Side-dress applications compared treatments of 10% inclusion of BOOST into UAN 32% to straight UAN 32%. Eight out of twelve replications showed BOOST treated UAN 32% winning on average +3.2 more Bu/A. The following year at Arise Research in Martinsville, Illinois, another +5 Bu/A side-dress win was recorded with BOOST treated UAN 28%.
For the next three consecutive Years 2017, 2018, 2019 in central Iowa, BOOST treated UAN 32% at side-dress averaged +6.3 Bu/A better across all straight UAN treatments. Side-dress UAN treatments varied between 15, 20, and 25 Gal/A at the Precision Ag Research Farm in Clarion, Iowa.
Moving back to Martinsville, Illinois for Years 2020 and 2021 a 10% inclusion of BOOST with UAN 28% applied both pre-emerge broadcast and post-emerge side-dress followed our boosted NUE trends producing over +13 Bu/A more on 20 less pounds of split applied nitrogen. Not only did we grow more corn on less applied nitrogen, we also validated that BOOST treated UAN could move and cycle other primary, secondary, and micro nutrients (N-P-K-Ca-Mg-S-Mn-Fe-Zn-Cu-B) beyond just nitrogen.
In addition to yield gains the last couple seasons , this research study in Martinsville, Illinois opened the door for a more in-depth discussion of how L-CBF BOOST feeds biology in the soil and therefore improves NUE. The trials explored and compared soil health parameters demonstrating several advantages. With the treatments of 10% inclusion of BOOST into UAN 28% the research concluded that we could reduce nitrate leaching losses. Two seasons averaged 17% less nitrate concentrations collected from lysimeter wells at the research farm. For the side-dress portion of this study we utilized Y-Drop equipment (placement on soil surface at base of stalk). An application rate of 40 Gal/A of UAN 28% was compared to 36 Gal/A UAN 28% + 4 Gal/A of L-CBF BOOST at growth stages between V4-V5.
Overall, using third party independent researchers QLF Agronomy has conducted several large replicated multi-year NUE trials across several states and spanning seven plus years to date. All of this work with L-CBF BOOST mixed with UAN 28-32% was done maintaining equal volumes for comparative treatments. The focus was utilizing BOOST as an “inclusion” product, treating the solution and not just the acre. In other words, if 20 gallons of UAN was applied, the comparison was to a mixture of 18 gallons of UAN + 2 gallons inclusion of BOOST. Integrating BOOST into UAN is a cost neutral proposition, improving performance for both your crop and soil health, while not subtracting from the bottom line.
A brief review of the trials returns on investment (ROI). The prices and ROI reflect today’s economics. Put your own numbers in for the price of corn and net cost difference of product. I used $7.50 per bushel on the corn and figured similar cost per gallon for BOOST and UAN this year.
2015 Real Farm Research – Aurora, NE + 3.2 Bu/A + $24.00 per acre
2016 Arise Research—Martinsville, IL + 5 Bu/A + $37.50 per acre
2017-2019 Precision Ag Research—Clarion, IA + 6.3 Bu/A + $47.25 per acre
2020-2021 Martinsville, IL + 13 Bu/A + $97.50 per acre
By simply including L-CBF BOOST (unique carbon source—cane molasses blend) into UAN programs we achieve better NUE and clear agronomic advantages.
How is this possible?
- BOOST is manufactured to have a Low pH. Dropping the pH of the UAN reduced ammonia loss and virtually eliminates volatility.
- BOOST plant sugars (primarily natural sucrose molecules) provide energy. In addition to feeding microbes the BOOST complexes with the UAN buffering the harsh concentration of salts. Plants and microbes can utilize more efficiently, working with the nitrogen cycle and storing more N in organic forms while reducing losses.
QLF Agronomy Field Researcher, Greg Clark continues to build our NUE database not only for yield and performance, but also working with labs to quantify and track measurements such as Water Extractable Organic Nitrogen (WEON) and Water Extractable Organic Carbon (WEOC) results. These soil health measurements relate to soil health and functioning biological activities. BOOST can play a major role in not only Nitrogen Use Efficiency but move your soils in a healthier direction. Reach out to your local QLF Agronomy representative to learn more about how BOOST can enhance your next nitrogen pass. Get started now amplifying and insuring the results of the next trip across your fields,
BOOST your UAN 28-32% side-dress application!