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Many farms in Michigan, from the southern Lower Peninsula all the way to the Upper Peninsula, have experienced excessive rainfall and periods of saturated soil in 2017. Nitrogen fertilizer losses can be serious in fields where soils have been saturated for several days at a time.
University of Wisconsin Extension soil scientist and former Michigan State University Extension soil fertility specialist Carrie Laboski wrote an excellent article in 2008, “Potential for nitrogen loss from heavy rainfalls.” This information is applicable to the current growing season. She addresses the “million dollar question:”
How much nitrogen loss should I expect from denitrification or leaching, and what should I do about it?
The following are a few key points from Laboski’s article. Nitrogen loss from heavy rainfall is most commonly due to denitrification and leaching.
Depending on crop growth stage and available equipment, crop nitrogen deficiencies can be corrected through irrigation, sidedressing with anhydrous ammonia, or sidedressing or broadcasting UAN or dry nitrogen fertilizer. Leaf burning from broadcast applications should be expected.
For details on estimating nitrogen loss from denitrification and leaching, review Laboski’s article, “Potential for nitrogen loss from heavy rainfalls.”
For more information on managing water- and storm-damaged fields from Michigan State University Extension:
Source: Jim Isleib, Michigan State University Extension
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