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SWEEP Report #28

The Effect of Split Applications of Nitrogen on Corn Yield
Under Ridge and No-Till Conditions

B. Shillinglaw, J. McGregor, Southwestern Ontario Agricultural Research Corporation, Harrow, Ont.

Executive Summary

View / Download Final Report [27 KB pdf]

Evaluation Summary (Tech. Transfer Report Summaries)

Associated SWEEP/LSP Research



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Completed: October, 1991

Key Words:

nitrogen, split application, no-till, ridge tillage, corn, yields

Executive Summary

Trials were carried out on two farms in Huron County to examine the relative merits of splitting the timing of the application of nitrogen fertilizer between planting and sidedress applications. Current findings have been that in southwestern Ontario sidedress applications of nitrogen have a yield advantage over preplant applications. Thus more nitrogen must be applied if the total season application is applied on or before the date of planting, relative to where a large portion of the nitrogen is applied later in the season, closer to the time of consumption by corn.

The experiments involved applications of 0, 20 and 40% of the seasonal application of nitrogen at the time of planting, with the remainder of the nitrogen sidedressed. Trials were carried out in each of a no-till and ridge-till system.

There was no evidence from these trials to support the practice of splitting nitrogen applications or for the application of the entire season's nitrogen at sidedressing. However, in light of this study having been limited to one year's data collection, further testing may be warranted to more thoroughly examine the relationship of nitrogen timing and crop nutrition and grain yields.

Evaluation Summary

(From Technology Transfer Report Summaries - A. Hayes, L. Cruickshank, Co-Chairs)

Split nitrogen application systems on corn were experimented with in this one year study to examine the effects of 3 proportions of nitrogen (0, 20 and 40% applied at planting time) on corn yields. The actual amounts of nitrogen applied to the plots were 160 kg N/ha, of which three rates, 0, 30, 60 kg N/ha were applied in a starter band with 28% N and the remainder applied at side-dressing conventionally (splits 0/160, 30/130, 60/100). The objective of the study was to determine the probable optimum quantity of nitrogen to be applied in advance of the sidedress application in a no-till and ridge till system. Measurements taken on yield and leaf samples were analyzed for nitrogen content.

The results of the leaf analysis showed that in a no-till system the 30/130 split nitrogen application had significantly lower ear leaf nitrogen than the 0/160 and the 60/100 application amounts. In the ridge till system the 30/130 split nitrogen resulted in the highest levels of ear leaf nitrogen.

There was no effect from either the nitrogen treatments or the timing of nitrogen application on grain yields in either the no-till or ridge till systems. No yield advantage or disadvantage showed up from splitting the nitrogen application.


Because 1988 was a very dry year, it is likely that moisture was a more limiting factor in this trial than was nitrogen. Therefore, no conclusion regarding the benefit from the split application of nitrogen, in no-till or ridge till, should be drawn from this study. Additional work will be required to determine if such benefits exist.

Associated SWEEP/LSP Research:

  • SWEEP Report #25 - The Development and Testing of a Dry Fertilizer Placement Machine

  • SWEEP Report #35 - Nutrient Distribution and Stratification Resulting from Conservation Farming

  • SWEEP Report #51 - Loss of Nitrogen by Microbial Denitrification, Nitrification, Surface and Tile Runoff: Relation to Tillage Method

  • LSP7018 - Nitrogen Research with Corn Using Conservation Tillage

  • LSP7020 - Nitrogen Conserving Farm Systems

  • LSP7017 - Cropping and Soil Management Effects on the Dynamics of Crop Residue Derived-N on the Coarse Textured Soils in Southern Ontario

Future Research: ( ) indicates reviewers suggestion for priority, A - high, C - low.

None required. More work on split applications of nitrogen in corn under conservation tillage on various soil types is being done.




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Created: 05-28-1996
Last Revised: Thursday, May 19, 2011 02:41:00 PM