The lingering effects of this year’s drought in the southern plains states and Southeast could continue into next year’s fertility management for several crops. Drought often confuses the crop nutrient issue. Since many in the drought regions applied the proper amount of nitrogen but below-normal yields were seen due to the drought, the question becomes whether there is any residual nitrogen left in the soil, according to Dale Ladd, writing for the McPhersonSentinel.com.

If residual nitrogen is left in the soil, due to the drought, there really is no way to find out. Soils are so hard from lack of rain that it’s near impossible to get a probe into the ground to a depth of 14 to 16 inches to find out.

Ladd wrote, “Most crop producers do not test for residual nitrogen even though we suspect there is some out there. As dry as it is, it would be very difficult to get a soil probe down into the subsoil today. However, should we get enough moisture to soften up the soil up to where a probe can go down 14-16 inches, it would provide very valuable information about the residual nitrogen levels.”

The benefits of finding out could prove beneficial to next year’s crop fertility budget.

“If we can reduce the normal nitrogen rate by 25 percent, for example only, how many dollars would that save per acre next spring? Saving 50 percent of a normal N rate would be a huge cost saving strategy,” Ladd wrote.

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