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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: LANDSCAPE-BASED CROP MANAGEMENT FOR FOOD, FEED, AND BIOENERGY

Location: Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research

Title: Canopy sensors to match N rate to crop need and reduce the pool of vulnerable nitrate

Authors
item Scharf, Peter -
item Kitchen, Newell
item Sudduth, Kenneth
item Shannon, D. Kent -
item Dunn, David -

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 12, 2013
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Citation: Scharf, P.C., Kitchen, N.R., Sudduth, K.A., Shannon, D., Dunn, D. 2013. Canopy sensors to match N rate to crop need and reduce the pool of vulnerable nitrate [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting. 219-1.

Technical Abstract: Nitrate in soil after harvest represents the most vulnerable pool of N for transfer to surface waters and eventually the Gulf of Mexico. Applying precisely as much N fertilizer as the crop needs reduces the pool of vulnerable post-harvest soil nitrate. Achieving this precision requires intensive diagnosis because optimal N fertilizer rate varies widely from field to field and from place to place within a field. Canopy reflectance sensors offer a promising tool for diagnosis of optimal N rate and simultaneous control of variable-rate N applications. This approach can be used in a range of crops. In 55 on-farm trials, using sensors to guide N rates in corn reduced N use by 16 kg N/ha while increasing yield by 110 kg/ha relative to N rates chosen by cooperating producers. In 6 on-farm cotton trials, sensors reduced N use by 7 kg/ha while increasing cotton lint yield by 40 kg/ha. Additional cotton trial outcomes will be added before the meeting. Canopy sensor-based N management appears to be a cost-effective way to precisely meet crop needs while reducing the pool of post-harvest soil nitrate that is vulnerable to loss.

Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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