Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture

Department/School/Program

Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Dr. John H. Grove

Abstract

Corn nitrogen (N) applications are still done on a field basis in Kentucky, according to previous crop, soil tillage management and soil drainage. Soil tests, as well as plant analysis for N, are not very useful in making N fertilizer rate recommendations for corn. Recommended rates assume that only 1/3 to 2/3 of applied N is recovered, variability largely due to the strong affect of weather on the release of soil N and fertilizer N fate. Many attempts have been made to apply N in a more precise and efficient way. Two experiments were conducted at Spindeltop, the University of Kentucky’s experimental farm near Lexington, over two years (2010, 2011), using a commercially available active optical sensor (GreanSeekerTM) to compute the normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI), and with this tool/index assess the possibility of early (V4-V6) N deficiency detection, grain yield prediction by NDVI with and without side-dressed N, and determination of the confounding effect of soil background on NDVI measurements. Results indicated that the imposed treatments affected grain yield, leaf N, grain N and grain N removal. Early N deficiency detection was possible with NDVI. The NDVI value tended to saturate in grain yield prediction models. The NDVI was affected by tillage management (residue/soil color background differences), which should be taken into account when using NDVI to predict grain yield. Side-dress N affected NDVI readings taken one week after side-dressing, reducing soil N variability and plant N nutrition. There is room for improvement in the use of this tool in corn N management.

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