Don't plant 31,000 seeds and apply 150 pounds of N in every field

Don't plant 31,000 seeds and apply 150 pounds of N in every field

Sounds like sound advice for farm input management, but what's the point?

Justin Petrosino spent 20 minutes at a farmer meeting recently reviewing trial data about corn populations and possible relationships with nitrogen rates. He is an agronomist with Monsanto's Agronomy in Motion program, or A.I.M.

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Petrosino works specifically doing research and helping farmers as an agronomist with Stewart Seeds. He's based in Ohio but also works with farmers in Indiana. The data in his trials was collected in both Ohio and Indiana.

Different rates for different places: The seeding and nitrogen rate that works in one field may need to be adjusted for another field.

For 20 minutes he talked about how in almost every case in their trials the best combination economically boiled down to planting 31,000 seeds per acre and applying 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre. That sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

Some may like it thinner, some may like it thicker. Maybe some want to put on more N, some a little less. That may depend on where you live, what type of hybrids you plant, your soil types and typical weather conditions.

That's why his next statement shocked the room, but shouldn't shock anyone reading this. Remember, though, he preached 150 pounds of N per acre and 31,000 seeds per acre for 20 minutes.

"The worst thing you could go away from this meeting and do is plant 31,000 seed per acre and apply 150 pounds of nitrogen per acre on every acre that you farm," he insisted.

Say what? You just said every trial pointed to that as the optimum seeding rate and nitrogen rate. Now you're saying don't do it?

Read carefully – he's saying don't do it everywhere, on every acre. Not every acre is the same on your farm, no matter where you live.

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"You're going to have some marginal land and some better land, often in the same field," he says. "The same rate for seeding and Nitrogen isn't going to be the right answer for every field. Variable-rate seeding likely has a place because of this too.

"The real take-home message is that think about what is the correct rate for each field or even each soil type, not your whole farm," he emphasizes.

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