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Wheat and Small Grains

Variable Rate Nitrogen Application – A Grower’s Perspective

winter wheat fieldThe unique, hilly topography of the inland Pacific Northwest causes great within-field variability in soil and water conditions. As a result, crop yield potential and crop response to nitrogen (N) applications will vary according to the hillslope position, steepness, and aspect of any planted location. Thus, variable rate N (VRN) application makes sense for growers in this region.

In a recently published case study, Variable Rate Nitrogen Application: Eric Odberg, a grower from Genesee, Idaho, shares his 10 years of experience using VRN application in a direct seeding (no-till) system. Although transitioning to VRN application is a big decision with many challenges along the way, Eric’s 10 years of experience has brought him numerous benefits. These benefits include reduced fertilizer input, reduced lodging, reduced risk of N losses to the environment, and increased financial gain. Furthermore, because Eric complements VRN application with direct seeding and diversified crop rotations, his farm’s soil quality has also improved.

For questions or comments, contact Georgine Yorgey (yorgey@wsu.edu) or Sylvia Kantor (kantors@wsu.edu) at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Nature Resources, Washington State University, or Kathleen Painter (kpainter@uidaho.edu) at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Idaho.

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