Fall Nitrogen Fertilizer vs Spring Nitrogen Fertilizer

Nitrogen fertilizer is one the most costly crop inputs following seed, and is also quite important for insuring top corn yields. In addition, nitrogen that doesn’t get taken up by a growing corn crop can cause environmental concerns. For these reasons, growers should be concerned with managing this valuable resource carefully. In this educational video Liqui-Grow's agronomy research lead will discuss evidence based research comparing fall vs spring nitrogen sources effects on corn yields and farmer profitability.

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Which is the Best Fertilizer?

Figuring out what the best fertilizer is depends on how it is to be used. Applying fertilizer to crops can have different effects for the range of crops, timing, placement, and rate used. It’s important to understand the differences and needs for each crop and fertilizer type to get the best fertilizer for the field.

The Right Source, Time, Rate, and Placement.

Liqui-Grow's graphic of 4 R's of Fertilizer Application
Liqui-Grow 4rs - Right Source, Right Time, Right Rate, Right Place

The 4 R's of Nutrient Stewardship

The right source, time, rate, and place can make all the difference with being a good nutrient steward of the lands we care for and cultivate.

Right Source. Each crop needs a unique fertilizer type, it is important to match the source.

Right Time. The timing is critical, which crop are you using and when should it be fertilized?

Right Rate. The amount of fertilizer applied to your crops will be important to ensure the best crop growth while reducing product waste.

Right Place. The right placement of fertilizer will ensure your crop gets the most out of the applied product.

Following the 4R’s of nutrient stewardship (the right placement, timing, source and rate) will often lead farmers toward greater crop yields and higher nutrient use efficiency.  Applying nitrogen fertilizer for corn production in the spring vs the fall is a great example of the “right” time.  Science based studies conducted by the University of Illinois, Minnesota State University and by Iowa State University shows on average a 7.9% yield increase for spring vs fall nitrogen applications.

Economically these studies clearly show that spring applied nitrogen is the most economical decision for Midwestern corn farmers. In some cases, growers might be able to increase their per acre profit by $43/ac by switching from fall to spring nitrogen sources.