Application of Fertilizer
Nitrogen is one of the most limiting factors in corn production. The management of the application of fertilizer is a complex process and can have a major impact on the yield on a field by field basis. With the ever increasing cost of synthetic fertilizer, manure is becoming more and more prevalent as a method to satisfy the fertilizer requirements of the crop while also reducing input costs.
From a C.O.R.N. newsletter from The Ohio State University:
“Side-dressing corn with swine and dairy manure has also proven to be an effective use of manure nutrients while saving the cost of purchased fertilizer. Applying manure to a growing crop also allows for better utilization of the manure nutrients, especially the nitrogen and phosphorus portions. Swine finishing manure applied as a side-dress to meet corn nitrogen needs also supplies enough phosphorus and most of the potash needed for a soybean crop the following season.”
Once the decision is made to utilize manure in the production process, it is critical that is get applied appropriately. The misapplication of manure can negate the benefits gained from the application.
Enter aerial imagery
Even after all the planning and preparation, sometimes equipment fails. Many times this isn’t noticed until it is too late to take action! In the field below, manure was applied to the field.
In this case, some of the knives we plugged and applying a lesser amount of manure when compared to the other knives. The NDVI clearly shows the negative impact (yield reduction) of misapplication of manure. Since the issue was seen almost immediately after the application via a set of aerial imagery as seen below, the grower was able to repair the equipment and get back out in the field to reapply more manure, thereby preventing a yield loss!
As you are planning out your season, an aerial image is an excellent data layer to add to your production plan. The imagery will show you potential issues and variability in the field that otherwise would not be found with “normal” scouting and the naked eye. For further reading on the application of manure in crop production, below are a few links to get you started.