3 Tips for Sidedress Success

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Sidedress nitrogen application

Splitting up nitrogen applications — applying some in fall or early spring and then more at sidedress — can help mitigate loss by giving corn more opportunities to use the nutrient. This helps maximize yield potential and helps keep excess nitrogen out of the environment. The practice also is recommended as part of the 4R Plus Nutrient Stewardship Program.

Split applications are especially helpful if the soil in your fields is more prone to nitrogen loss. Soils that are wet or sandy throughout the Midwest tend to lose nitrogen more easily through leaching and denitrification.

On the flip side, you may be dealing with the opposite problem: drought or very dry soil conditions. Split applications also can be beneficial when it’s dry by allowing more time for the nitrogen to incorporate into the soil and be taken up by corn.

3 Tips for Successful Sidedress Applications

  1. Test the Soil: The first tip for a successful sidedress application is to dial in the amount of fertilizer you need to apply by testing the soil. Applying the right amount of fertilizer will help ensure corn has the nutrients it needs, when it needs them. This also will help you avoid adding too much nitrogen, which can be a big waste of money — especially while prices are high. 

    Here are four reminders for proper soil testing:
    • Test when corn is 6 to 12 inches tall, which is typically late May to early June.
    • Sample areas that are similar in texture and 10 to 20 acres in size.
    • Avoid sampling from previous fertilizer application bands.
    • Tests should consist of 15 to 20 cores per sample.
  2. Time It Right: For the best results, it’s recommended to apply sidedress nitrogen sometime between the V3 and V6 corn growth stages. The corn crop’s nitrogen needs begin to drastically increase at about V7 or V8, so having the nutrient available in the root zone during that time is important for yield potential.
  3. Protect Your Investment: No matter when you apply nitrogen, it’s vulnerable to loss. If you’re dealing with wet weather this season, heavy rains can increase nitrogen loss via leaching. If you’re dealing with dry or windy weather, those conditions can increase nitrogen loss via volatilization.

    So be sure to protect your sidedress investment with a proven nitrogen stabilizer. N-Serve® and Instinct NXTGEN® nitrogen stabilizers both prevent nitrogen loss below ground from leaching and denitrification. N-Serve works with anhydrous ammonia, and Instinct NXTGEN works with UAN, urea and liquid manure.

Learn more about protecting your nitrogen investment and sidedress best practices from Farm4Profit’s Tanner Winterhof and Corteva Agriscience’s Andrew Luzum, Nutrient Maximizer strategic account manager.

Instinct NXTGEN® is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Do not fall-apply anhydrous ammonia south of Highway 16 in the state of Illinois. Always read and follow label directions.