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High clearance allows spraying nitrogen as corn requires

By Staff | Jul 3, 2009

Hagie Manufacturing's nitrogen tool bar, and the its STS 12 sprayer unit, are both able to move through fields with 72 inches of clearance. This will allow fertilizer applications in July in corn, as well as spraying for pests and fungus control later in the season.

BARNUM – There was a day, and it wasn’t too long ago, when the idea of applying nitrogen in corn fields during July was unthinkable. By this time of year, the corn is too tall for boom sprayers and the foliage is too thick and would damage leaves.

But that was a day in the past. Hagie Manufacturing, based in Clarion, has developed what it calls a high clearance nitrogen tool bar that allows for nitrogen application in corn upward to 72 inches tall.

C&M Custom Spraying, of Barnum, hosted a field day June 25, to demonstrate how the new elevated NTB works on Hagie’s STS 12 machine.

Myron Pohlman, sales rep for Hagie, said the advantage of high clearance nitrogen applications is that it virtually eliminates the need to fall-apply nitrogen.

Pohlman said high clearance applications mean farmers don’t have to fall-apply nitrogen and hope half of it will still be in the soil the next spring.

Instead, producers can split-apply N in the spring and continue to add fertilizer throughout pre-tassel growth as corn plants need it.

A colter system inserts a disc into the soil as the machine rolls over the field cutting a slim trench next to the plants. A spray nozzle shoots fertilizer into the trench, thereby avoiding damage to leaves because it’s not sprayed, or splashed, onto foliage.

“This design places the fertilizer where it’s needed,” Pohlman said.

At the field day, C&M Custom Spraying was demonstrating a Hagie 16-row apparatus.

C&M’s Kevin McCabe noted that after corn tassels, requiring no additional fertilizer, the device can be used for other controls, such as pesticide or fungicide applications.

Because many of their clients have late-planted corn that didn’t get spring fertilization, C&M’s John Clarken said “we’re getting several calls per day,” for high clearance spraying. “I’m not sure we can get to everyone.”

The system has been under development and testing since 2001. Although Hagie reps said they think there is a higher yield in corn using this technique, they had no verified field tests to show. However, based on other 40-year yield tests with 150 pounds of N per acre available to plants, the high-clearance split application is thought to yield 25 bushels more.

Hagie reps said there should be also be more profit for producers who are applying only what the plants need, when they need it.

Another feature of the STS 12 is “green finder” technology for each row. This system scans plants for their “greenness” and automatically applies more or less fertilizer on those areas.

Contact Larry Kershner at (515) 573-2141, Ext. 453, or by e-mail at kersh@farm-news.com.

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