An increasing number of farmers are considering the use of site-specific nitrogen (N) applications to maize (Zea mays L.) as a way of maximizing yield potential while minimizing fertilizer cost. The objectives of this 3-years experiment were to evaluate the spatial structure of yield response to N fertilizer and investigate the potential for site-specific N management under maize production in New York. Four experimental N rates (50, 110, 160, or 220 kg ha∧1), two tillage systems (chisel till and zone-till) and two crop rotations (maize•maize and maize•soybean (Glycine max L.)) were superimposed over a 12 ha field in central New York State with a complex of Honeoye-Lima, Kendaia, and Lima soils ranging from moderately well to poorly drained soils. Pre-sidedress soil nitrate tests (PSNT) showed significant spatial structure but did not conform to that for crop N response, indicating that N fertilizer recommendations based on PSNT results cannot be simply applied in a site-specific management approach. Optimal N rate varied from 110 kg ha ∧1 for the dry years 1999 and 2000 to 220 kg ha∧1 for 1998, with a warm wet spring. Tillage treatments were generally comparable in N response. Spatial yield response analysis showed limited field-scale regionalization of both yield and profit response to N, suggesting that site-specific application of nitrogen is impractical. The greatest source of variability in N requirements was observed with the annual effects of weather, and presents a greater potential for precise N application than site-specific application. Annual variations in optimum N rate were not related to annual yield differences and yield potential itself does not appear to be a good predictor of N needs.
Precision Agriculture – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 30, 2004
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