Despite the bad rap farmers and the American ag industry gets for applying leachable products on their fields, corn crops truly need nutrients that don't leach away. Thus, side dressing is the best practice to control leaching of nitrogen and sulfur.
While there are products that help keep nitrogen (N) in the soil profile longer than straight urea applications (see Factor article below), those products still cannot manage the risk of nitrogen loss as well as side dressing can, according to Carter Ash, Federated's assistant location manager at Rush City. Plus, said Ash, "sulfur (S) is also prone to leaching out of the root zone and we don't have a way to protect the sulfur as we do with nitrogen."
Side dressing N and S is recommended for both nutrients.
Corn starts to use the highest levels of N around V6. "Making sure that the nitrogen and sulfur are readily available to the plant at this time is essential," said Ash.
Federated has three John Deere self-propelled side dressing machines in operation across the co-op's service areas. Depending on the height of the corn, these machines can be set for a spread pattern to 90 feet, which allows the machine to follow the sprayer tracks-- and as such, Ash said, "brings an excellent value" in custom application for Federated's growers.
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about the capabilities and custom application rates with these machines to make the most of side dressing N and S in corn. Ash said, "This is the most economically, agronomically, and environmentally sound practice we can recommend to our customers" to prevent leaching of important nutrients.