Updating the MRTN nitrogen rates?

By Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension agronomist

I have had a couple of guys tell me they are going to “load it up” — meaning they are thinking about adding more than their typical level of inputs — but even with high prices, economics still plays a role.

Prices for both nitrogen and corn have changed dramatically since our discussion of nitrogen rates back in March. As we prepare this article, corn for fall delivery is around $5.80 per bushel and nitrogen prices are $0.45 to $0.65 per pound of N depending on the source of N you chose. The scenarios in the table incorporate prices of 28% UAN or anhydrous ammonium and a range of corn prices from $4.50 to $6.00 per bushel to determine the maximum return to nitrogen rate in a soybean to corn rotation. 

The tables show a single value and a rate range. The single value is the MRTN rate, which maximizes the return to nitrogen. The Profitable N Rate Range (lb N/acre), is the N rate values at a $1 per acre net return range (LOW and HIGH) around the MRTN. An N rate within this range around the MRTN would provide similar expected economic return and could be considered the profitable N rate range.

If these price scenarios do not fit your price points it only take a few minutes at http://cnrc.agron.iastate.edu/, plug in your number and start the conversation about nitrogen rates.

 Product = 28% UANCost $350 per ton or $0.63
Corn Price ($/bu)$   4.50$   5.00$   5.50$   6.00
Nitrogen to Corn Price Ratio0.140.130.110.11
MRTN Rate (lbs N/acre)161167173177
Profitable N Range (lb N/acre)147-175153-181159-186164-190
Net Return to N at MRTN Rate ($/acre) $234.56  $272.10  $310.01  $348.22 
Product Cost at MRTN Rate ($/acre) $101.43  $105.21  $108.89  $111.51 
 Product = 82-0-0Cost $710 per ton or $0.43
Corn Price ($/bu) $   4.50  $   5.00  $   5.50  $   6.00 
Nitrogen to Corn Price Ratio0.10.090.080.07
MRTN Rate (lbs N/acre)183187193198
Profitable N Range (lb N/acre)167-198172-203177-208182-212
Net Return to N at MRTN Rate ($/acre) $268.81  $307.51  $346.42  $385.55 
Product Cost at MRTN Rate ($/acre) $78.69  $80.41  $82.99  $85.14 

As you determine your MRTN rate, remember that we are setting the nitrogen needed for the entire season. If you applied manure, applied N in the starter, any spring broadcast MAP or DAP or if you use a weed and feed herbicide program subtract the N already applied of the final application made. We also assume in the rate recommendations that you use best management practices for your N application for your specific site.

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