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Variable Rate Nitrogen in Canola

Variable rate nitrogen applications in Canola may only work in certain circumstances, according to the recently published study.

Economic Evaluation of Variable Rate Nitrogen Management of Canola for Zones Based on Histroical Yield Maps and Soil Test Recommendations

By using precision agriculture strategies such as management zones, there is potential to increase profitability. However, the effectiveness is highly variable.

Canola Nitrogen Figure
(A) Experimental design of yield zones and fertilizer treatments projected over a Digital Elevation Model (m). (B) Response of canola seed production to nitrogen fertilizer treatments in three yield zones for analysis of 27 sites in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba from 2014 to 2017. Multiple pairwise comparisons (Tukey HSD), first letter between fertilizer treatments within zone, second letter for controls between zones.

The field-scale study looked at ten sites to evaluate the viability of site-specific nitrogen management zones. These zones were based on historical yield maps and soil test recommendations to improve canola productivity and profitability in Western Canada.

On average, these management zones of nitrogen fertilizer saw $28 to $65/ha more net revenue. The potential for management zones does exist. However, the effectiveness of the crop yield relies heavily on conditions including the soil and environment at each site.

This study used factorial combinations of three canola yield zones (low, average, high) by four nitrogen rates, replicated four times at each site, to create management zones. Results showed, nitrogen application under management zones was only reduced by 8% compared to uniform rates.

Farming Smarter contributed to this study.

Nitrogen Table
Table 4 Nitrogen (N) at 100% recommended N application and total N rate (soil plus applied) at maximum yield and maximum net revenue for canola production at low, average, and high canola management zones in Manitoba (MB), Saskatchewan (SK) and Alberta (AB), Canada from 2014 to 2016 as well as Manitoba agricultural services corporation (MASC) average applied N at risk area five in Manitoba.