With the summertime switch from an el Niño to a la Niña weather cycle predicted by many crop models will come areas that receive ample moisture while other areas may find themselves wanting for water. As growers anticipate potential changes in moisture patterns it is beneficial to anticipate how those changes can affect the crop and what might be done proactively to adapt.
One such area of adaptation could be nitrogen management. The majority of nitrogen gets to the plant in the NO3- form via mass flow in soil water. When soil water becomes limited so does the availability of nitrogen via mass flow. Often times the first symptoms of dry weather are a ‘firing’ of the bottom leaves but this can actually be nitrogen deficiencies showing up in the plant.
Effective placement of nitrogen is one proactive step to help preempt this problem. Broadcast nitrogen or N banded in the middle of the row must migrate a long distance to the plant in soil water. By banding nitrogen or other nutrients such as sulfur near or next to the row, growers can place the nitrogen directly over the root mass found within a seven-inch diameter around the stalk. This places the nitrogen directly over the sweet spot and requires less distance to travel to the root zone, making it a more efficient method of application under drier conditionsyout.
New technology on the market such as 360 Y-DROP®allows growers to adjust the placement of nutritional products by laying a band next to the stalk and allowing moisture funneled down by the plant to naturally incorporate the products into the root zone.