Compare Fertilizer Use Correctly

In Environmental, Sustainability, Video by Chuck

A subject that is very misunderstood when it comes to growing corn is fertilizer. Here’s another installment of our Corn Commentary video series that was produced at the recent National Association of Farm Broadcasting convention. In it NCGA CEO Rick Tolman helps you better understand what’s going on in corn production as it relates to fertilizer. For example, Rick says that people hear that corn uses more fertilizer than any other crop. He says that’s because corn is planted on more acres than any other crop. That’s why the totality of fertilizer usage is higher. However, if you look at fertilizer use on a per unit basis corn is really middle of the road compared to other crops.

Rick also points to a white paper on corn production sustainability that you can download from their website. Here’s an excerpt relating to this topic:

The latest advances in agriculture technology enable farmers to apply fertilizers with pinpoint accuracy, minimizing their impact to soil, water and air. For example, the use of enhanced efficiency fertilizers, such as slow- and controlled-release fertilizers and stabilized nitrogen fertilizers, are helping to protect the environment by reducing nutrient losses and improving nutrient efficiency while improving crop yields.

One of the clearest measures of sustainable agriculture production is increasing efficiency, with the ability to swell output while decreasing inputs. According to USDA, growers use less nitrogen to produce over 50 percent more corn than in 1980. Furthermore, over the past 15 years, farmers experienced a 17 percent increase in nitrogen efficiency as measured by bushels of corn produced per pound of nitrogen applied which in turn means less nutrients lost to runoff.