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Fluid Journal : Summer 2016
8 The Fluid Journal Summer 2016 ▼ DOWNLOAD An estimated 600,000 acres of irrigated corn are grown in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, northern New Mexico, and southwest Colorado (USDA FSA, 2013). Corn production in these areas involves intense management and numerous inputs to achieve yield goals. Over the past 20 years producers in these areas have faced fluctuating markets, increased input costs, environmental shifts including extreme heat, exceptional drought (USDC NOAA, 2013), declining groundwater and surface water (NPGWCD, 2013), and state mandated pumping restrictions. These changes have driven corn producers to improve operational efficiencies to maintain or improve production and profits. The adoption of new methods and technologies that preserve profitability is important for the economic sustainability of High Plains farmers. University research is a traditional method of identifying BMP that may improve grower productivity and profit. However, dissemination and implementation of research across broad geographies can be a measured process. The scientific method often precludes investigation across a diverse set of variables common within and across farms (Cook, et al. 2013; IPNI, 2013). Private industry can augment implementation of profitable BMP discovered in traditional research by employing resources necessary for plot placement and demonstrations across wide geographies over multiple years. Furthermore, spatial and temporal investigations can be instrumental in prompt identification of processes and practices that improve producer efficiencies and/or profitability (Cook, et al. 2013). Objectives One objective of this report is to prove the value of farm demonstrations conducted across multiple years and locations, and how theses can aid in widespread adoption of BMP identified by academia (e.g. the use of P and K 2 x 0 starter fertilizer). Additionally, this article will document the use of spatial and temporal investigations that have identified practices that increase production efficiency with multiple N applications on corn that result in lower total N were presented at annual DuPont Pioneer sponsored crop production clinics with support from private agricultural industry and university Extension partners. Lead university researchers of various studies were invited to present their work directly to growers at these clinics to facilitate technology transfer and adoption. Clinics held in the region discussed in this paper are well attended, with about 600 growers addressed annually. Results Management practice revisions by Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle, Southwest Colorado, and northern New Mexico irrigated corn farmers have demonstrated the value of the processes discussed earlier. For example, numerous demonstrations comparing tillage practices have shown improved corn yield with strip-till and no-till compared to conventional tillage. The value of reduced tillage was enhanced during periods of drought and limited availability of irrigation water due to declining aquifer levels or state-mandated water allocations. Furthermore, these programs displayed soil moisture preservation, reduced soil erosion by wind, reduced soil compaction, plus aided in water infiltration by leaving residue on the soil surface (Unger et al., 1991). Starter. Producers were taught (in clinics) the importance of starter fertilizer as a component of high yield corn, especially in strip-till and no-till systems because soils warm slowly when covered by residue. On-farm test plots conducted by Gordon (2009) evaluated surface banding starter fertilizer two inches from the seed slice (2 x 0 placement). The results of this study and educational efforts have increased the usage of 2 x 0 applied without affecting yields. Methodology Plots. During the past 20 years approximately 100 on-farm test plots have been planted annually throughout the Texas and Okalahoma Panhandles, northern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. Each plot consisted of different corn hybrids planted in strips across the field. Plot width varied but most strips were 6-, 8-, or 12- rows wide and spacing between rows was approximately 30 inches. Row length usually ranged from approximately 2,600 to slightly over 5,200 feet. Recording. On-farm trials were established using cooperator field equipment and management practices, or management suggestions offered by DuPont Pioneer sales professionals. Production practices and certain environmental details important for corn development were recorded by DuPont Pioneer sales representatives, field agronomists, and account managers in fields where test plots were planted (Table 1). Strips were harvested with cooperator or custom harvester equipment. Corn grain from each strip was weighed using a weigh wagon. These data wee recorded and achieved in computer programs and in written form for comparison following harvest. Yield comparisons among hybrids and management practices were made to identify a hybrid or trend in a practice(s) that may improve on-farm production or efficiencies in management practices. Trends identified as practices that may enhance production were applied to multiple fields to determine the reproducibility of the plot data. Traditional university research practices showing potential for increased yield and practical adoption Table 1. Variables recorded for on-farm test plots. Planting Date Fertilizer rate Seeding Rate Fertilizer placement Irrigation Capacity Fertilizer timing Irrigation Water Applied Fertilizer Products (inches/acre) Previous Crop Precipitation (inches) Tillage Practices High and Low daily Temperature Herbicide (Product and timing) Elevation Fungicide (applied or not applied) Soil Type Insecticides Soil Fertility Tests (plot) Miticides