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Importance Of Nitrogen In Barley Essay

1988 words - 8 pages

Nitrogen is one of the most important nutrients in growing a barley crop. Excess nitrogen leaching through soil is also a major contributor to groundwater pollution. Many factors and calculations are needed in balancing environmental concerns from excess nitrogen, with the need for enough nitrogen to reach the crop’s highest potential yield. There has been extensive research done to find the correct nitrogen application levels by universities and private organizations. Even with all this research there are still human decisions and differing professional and lab opinions that make this decision complex.
Nitrogen is the foundation for the growth of a crop of barley that will produce a sufficient yield. Applying fertilizer to the crop requires careful and necessary steps that will help determine the amount needed. Therefore step one, when determining nitrogen needs for the next growing year, it is important to find out how much nitrogen is left in the soil from the previous growing year. This process requires a soil sample test, which will give test results showing what type of nutrients are still left in the soil. “Step two, nitrogen is mineralized from the soil and made available for plant growth during the next growing season. The problem is there is no test for this so, in Southern Idaho, farmers use an estimation of around forty-five pounds acre” (Robertson and Stark). Step three, when following crops like sugar beets, potatoes, and onions, which have rapid residue decomposition, farmers do not have to use extra recommendations, for nitrogen, to break down those previous crop’s residue. However, if they have a crop that produces mature grain residue, which has low tissue nitrogen levels, farmers have to apply additional nitrogen to cover the residue decomposition of that mature crop’s tissue. “Step four, nitrogen recommendations should be adjusted according to the yield that growers can reasonably expect for their soil, environmental conditions and management practices” (Robertson and Stark). Step four is extremely important because it is an environmental concern when a farmer applies more nitrogen then needed for the crop of barley. “Step five, in Southern Idaho, farmers have to consider any type of manure they apply such as raw manure, compost, and liquid. These different types of manure need to be tested to find their nutrient content because manure adds different types of nutrients to the soil” (Robertson and Stark). Step six is deciding what the barley crop is used for. In Southern Idaho two main uses for barley are malting, and feed for livestock. Usually, the higher the nitrogen content, the higher the protein in barley. But malt barley does not want a high protein level because of its different use than feed barley. When applying nitrogen to the barley crop, farmers need to understand what crop was grown in the field the last growing year. If the farmer is following a crop, such as barley, an additional...

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