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Use of urea and ammonium phosphates as starter fertilizers

Use of urea and ammonium phosphates as starter fertilizers

Journal of Fertilizer Issues 6(1): 12-16

Starter fertilizers have been shown to promote early season growth and/or yield of several crops. Placement of fertilizer in contact with the seed has been shown to enhance yields in some cases. These studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of starter fertilizer sources on early season nutrient concentration and yield of corn (Zea mays L.) and to evaluate the effect of urea and ammonium phosphates applied in contact with the seed on emergence and yield of corn. Whole plant (4-6 leaf stage) nutrient concentrations, ear leaf nutrient concentrations and yields were not differentially affected by various fertilizer sources applied two inches to the side and two inches below the seed. Fertilizer applied with the seed reduced yield and stand count in 2 of 8 location/year combinations. This reduction was related to the amount of rainfall within 10 days of planting. When rainfall exceeded 0.5-0.7 inches in that period, several fertilizer sources applied at rates up to 40 lb N/ac did not reduce yields. However, when rainfall was less than 0.5 inches, yields were reduced 2.5-2.6 bu/lb N for urea-urea phosphate and urea plus concentrated superphosphate, 0.4-0.6 bu/lb N for urea phosphate and 1.1-1.4 bu/lb N for ammonium nitrate plus concentrated superphosphate. These results show the effect of free ammonia on germination and strongly suggest that fertilizers containing urea should not be applied in contact with the seed.

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