Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Irrigated No-Till Corn and Soybean Response to Nitrogen in Northern Colorado.

A.D. Halvorson and C.A. Reule. USDA-ARS, 2150 Centre Ave, Bldg. D, Ste 100, Ft. Collins, CO 80526

Irrigated, no-till (NT) production systems can potentially reduce soil erosion, fossil fuel consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional till (CT) systems. Including a legume in the rotation may also reduce N fertilizer requirements. Nitrogen fertilization (6 N rates) effects on irrigated, corn (Zea mays L.) and soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] yields in a corn-soybean rotation were evaluated for 5 yr on a clay loam soil to determine the viability of an irrigated NT system and N needs for optimum crop yield. Corn grain yields were significantly increased by N fertilization each of three years in the rotation, but soybean grain yields (2 yr) did not respond to N fertilization, averaging 27.87 Mg ha-1. Three year average corn grain yields were near maximum with an available N (soil + fertilizer + irrigation water N) level of 257 kg N ha-1. Nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) by corn and soybean, based on grain N removal, decreased with increasing available N level. Estimated total N required to produce one Mg grain at maximum corn yield averaged 20 kg N and 54 kg N for soybean. Corn residue increased with increasing N rate but soybean residue was constant across N rates. Excellent irrigated, NT corn yields were obtained in this corn-soybean rotation for northern Colorado, but soybean yields were only marginally acceptable. Short soybean plant height (30-40 cm) and shattering made combine harvest difficult resulting in significant grain loss. Improved soybean cultivars are needed for this area to make a corn-soybean rotation a viable production system.

Handout (.pdf format, 149.0 kb)