Cornell University researchers with a grant from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program say individual farm growing conditions and field management may play a larger role than previously credited in maximizing corn production. The research team’s latest variety trials and nitrogen uptake efficiency report is posted on the NNYADP website at under the About: Projects: 2019 tab.

“Our initial assessments show site-to-site differences are much greater than genetic differences between corn hybrid selections within a site,” said Joseph Lawrence, a dairy forage systems specialist with the Cornell University PRO-DAIRY program.

Lawrence leads the NNYADP-funded research conducted in collaboration with the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program. The project is evaluating the use of nitrogen balance and efficiency indicators to enhance precision nitrogen management across sites and corn hybrids. This has the potential to simultaneously advance agricultural environmental stewardship and reduce the production cost of this key dairy crop.

Data from corn silage variety field trials at a northern New York dairy farm in St. Lawrence County and the Willsboro Research Farm in Essex County from 2016 through 2019 were analyzed to evaluate the impact of yield, crop quality, soil health, soil types (5), and weather factors on nitrogen balances, with a specific focus on how much nitrogen is needed for optimal production.

The project established six nitrogen (N) balance indicators, including a basic field N balance that reflects the difference between N applied with fertilizer and manure and N removed with corn silage harvest. Five additional measures of N use efficiency are also under evaluation. The data from this NNYADP project add to a statewide initiative to develop a corn silage yield potential database.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Learn more at

By martha

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