High Yield Management Systems in Corn

Trial Overview

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  • Producers are focusing on achieving higher potential corn yields possibly by adding inputs; however, the cost of added inputs needs to increase net economic returns.
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Research Objective

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  • The objective of the study was  to evaluate the effect of various inputs contribution to increasing corn yield potential and maximizing net economic returns in a high-yield irrigated environment.
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Location Soil Type Previous Crop Tillage Type Planting Date Harvest Date Potential Yield Planting Rate
Gothenburg, NE Hord sil loam Soybean Strip-till 04/24/2016 10/18/2016 280 bu/acre Variable
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Site Notes:

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  • Soil Test Report. All samples collected March 22, 2016. *Sampling depth was 0-8 inches for all samples except nitrate and sulfate which were 0-36 inches sampling depth.13;10;
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    • pH - 7.1
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    • Organic Matter - 2.7%
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    • *Nitrate-Nitrogen - 38 lbs/acre
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    • Phosphorus (P) (Mehlich-3) - 23 ppm
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    • Potassium (K) - 375 ppm
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    • *Sulfate - 9 ppm
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    • Zinc (Zn) - 1.33 ppm
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    • Iron (Fe) - 10.6 ppm
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    • Manganese (Mn) - 3.9 ppm
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    • Copper (Cu) - 0.39 ppm
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    • Boron (B) - 1.13 ppm
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    • CEC - 14.5 meq/100g
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  • Two different seed products were planted in 30-inch row widths except treatment 10 was planted in 8-inch twin rows on 30-inch centers. 109 relative maturity SmartStax® RIB Complete® corn blend and a 113 relative maturity SmartStax® RIB Complete® corn blend
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  • Precipitation – inches/month13;10;
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    • April - 6.7
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    • May - 7.7
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    • June - 2.65
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    • July - 3.61
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    • August - 0.69
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    • September - 0.61
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    • October - 0.69
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  • Irrigation
    13;10; 6.0 inches of water was applied throughout the growing season.
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  • Treatments13;10;
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    • The study consisted of basic management inputs with additional inputs added for each treatment.
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    • Subsequent treatments included the previous treatment plus an additional treatment resulting in a “building block�? approach of treatments.
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    • The study was a randomized complete block with management treatments as the main plot and seed products as the subplot with four replications.
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  • Treatment 1 - Basic Management:13;10;
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    • 32,000 seeds/acre
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    • 240 lbs nitrogen (N)/acre preplant application
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    • 60 lbs phosphorus (P)/acre
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    • 30-inch row width
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  • Treatment 2 - Plus Density13;10;
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    • Increase planting population to 38,000 seeds/acre
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  • Treatment 3 - Plus fungicide application at tasseling (VT) growth stage13;10;
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    • 10 fl oz/acre of Headline AMP®
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  • Treatment 4 - Plus 25 lbs of sulfur (S) and 0.5 lb of zinc (Zn)/acre13;10;
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    • applied as strip-till
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  • Treatment 5 - Plus 10 lbs of potassium (K), 4.8 lb of magnesium (Mg), and 10 lbs S/acre13;10;
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    • applied as K Mag® PREMIUM with strip-till
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  • Treatment 6 - Plus split application of N13;10;
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    • 80 lbs/acre preplant, 100 lbs/acre at V7 (7 leaf collars) growth stage, 60/lbs/acre at VT
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  • Treatment 7 - Plus fungicide application at V4 (4 leaf collars) growth stage13;10;
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    • 6 fl oz/acre of Headline® SC
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  • Treatment 8 - Plus high density13;10;
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    • Increase planting population to 44,000 seeds/acre (increase of 6000 seeds/acre from the previous treatment)
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  • Treatment 913;10;
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    • Plus foliar application of 0.5 lb of zinc (Zn)/acre
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  • Treatment 10 - Plus twin rows13;10;
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    • 8-inch width twin rows on 30-inch centers (replaced 30-inch row width in the previous treatments)
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Understanding the Results

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13;10; Figure 1. Treatment Summary

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13;10; Figure 2. Average Yield and Economic Impact of Subsequent Treatments

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13;10; Figure 3. Ears from 5 feet of row from selected treatments. Increasing plant densities resulted in higher ear counts per acre resulting in higher yields

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13;10; Figure 4. Fungicide treatment plot (left) displaying healthier leaves in the lower plant canopy compared to the no fungicide treatment plot (right). However, there was not a significant yield difference between the two treatments.

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  • No average yield differences were observed between seed products under these conditions, hence results were averaged across seed products.
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  • Average corn yields were increased when densities were increased from 32,000 seeds/acre to 38,000/seeds/acre in treatment 2 and from 38,000 seeds/acre to 44,000 seeds/acre in treatment 8.
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  • VT and V4 growth stages fungicide treatments increased average yields under these conditions, but neither were significant.
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  • All forms of additional fertility inputs had minimal impact on yields under these conditions.
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  • Twin rows were significantly lower yielding than treatments 8 (high density – 44,000 seeds/acre) and 9 (Zn foliar application). This may have been due to the twin rows being planted on the edge of the strip-till rather than in the center.
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What Does This Mean for Your Farm

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  • There is year-to-year variability from the effect of additional input(s) increasing yield potential. Increased plant density increased yields in a similar 2014 study which had been stressed due to hail damage. A 2015 study resulted in increased plant density having a minimal effect on increasing yield potential; however, fungicides and the addition of sulfur and zinc significantly improved yields.
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  • Increasing corn yields can be driven through improved management practices and additional inputs.
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  • In times of low commodity prices, additional inputs should be carefully evaluated for their impact on potential yield and net economic return.
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