Nitrogen and Plant Health – WEST AG INFORMATION NETWORK

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Nitrogen and plant health

Drought or no drought, experts say farmers need to monitor nitrogen levels in their soil. Too little or too much water can impact soil chemistry and affect the ability of many nutrients to be available to crops. Ryan Hageman, CHS Agronomy Product Manager, says nitrogen plays a vital role in plant health.

“For example, nitrogen is an important component of amino acids, proteins and enzymes that help roots absorb nutrients and water. It also makes up a large part of the chlorophyll found in plants, which is used to make sugars that nourish the plant. Nitrogen has an impact on the regulation of plant growth as well as the development of proteins found in the grains, fruits and seeds of a crop. Too little nitrogen and crops may not thrive, and too much nitrogen can harm plants and the environment. Since certain conditions are needed to facilitate a root’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil, crops can experience nutrient deficiencies when growing conditions are poor. Highly acidic or alkaline conditions, temperature extremes, drought and heavy rains can all influence the availability of nutrients in the soil and its subsequent uptake by crops.

“After a year of drought conditions, the soil will tend to retain more nitrogen due to less nitrogen uptake by the crop and a reduced amount of nitrogen loss through leaching or denitrification. Part of this residual nitrogen will be available for the next harvest…”

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