Tom Novak is a 2023 Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Program grant recipient evaluating corn MRTN rates on coarse vs loam soil types. Novak had this to say about his long history of on-farm research and why it’s important to keep asking questions: “Back in the late 90's, I teamed up doing N rate trials with our Jefferson County Crops and Soils agent, Matt Hanson, and we continued trials for the next 10 years. One of the results taught us that being efficient with N use (side-dressing) was extremely important when discussing what the 'correct' N rate should be. This decade of trials also showed us the UW-recommended rates were adequate. However, some things, like non-responsive trials, nagged at us and we never got the 'why' figured out. Flash forward to the present day, and with a good funding source in place, we can run different tests, like preplant N, pre-sidedress N, ear leaf samples, and more, which were too expensive when we had no budget! This will help us understand the 'why' when odd things happen.
The new twist over this two-year project is beyond getting yield data over six N rates; I'm comparing light sandy loam soils to some black loam soils to see if optimum N rates at each yield level is the same, or if not, can we get by with less N on lighter/droughty soils as some variable rate models suggest.”