Corn Fertilizer Source and Application Method

December 14, 2023


  • Fertility application timing and method are very important for the maximation of corn yield potential.
  • Many application types occur across the southern agricultural system including knifed-in soil applications, surface applications of liquid fertilizer, and surface-applied granular applications.
  • Each application technique has potential benefits and drawbacks. The purpose of this study was to evaluate different application methods across a range of DEKALB® Brand Corn Products.
  • Usually, one type of fertilizer application has a lower price compared to others. Therefore, this experiment was conducted to help answer the question – Does the type of fertilizer application matter?


Site details
  • All field work, tillage, and herbicides were per local standards.
    • DEKALB® Brand Products planted in trial:
      • DKC62-89 Brand, 112 RM, Trecepta® Corn
      • DKC64-22 Brand, 114 RM, VT Double PRO® Corn
      • DKC65-95 Brand, 115 RM, VT Double PRO® Corn
      • DKC67-44 Brand, 117 RM, VT Double PRO® Corn
      • DKC68-35 Brand, 118 RM, VT Double PRO®
    • Corn Seeding Rate – 36,000 seeds/acre.
    • Split application of nitrogen (N) (240 lb/acre) for each application treatment:
      • 50% (120 lb/acre) applied at 3 to 4 leaf stage.
      • 50% (120 lb/acre) applied at layby.
    • Fertilizer Application Treatments (Figure 1):
      • Dry – Applied as 41-0-0-4.1
      • Surface Applied Liquid (50%/50%)
        • First – Applied as 30-0-0-2.5
        • Second – Applied as 29-0-0-4.1
      • Liquid – Knifed-In Soil Applied as 50%/50%
        • First – Applied as 30-0-0-2.5
        • Second – Applied as 29-0-0-4.1
      • Similar amounts of sulfur were applied for each treatment
  • Two replicate strip plot – 12 row plots, 1100 feet in length, about 1.2 acres/experimental unit (Figure 2).
  • Harvested with commercial combine and yields recorded using Climate FieldView™ data collection on the combine.
  • Yields corrected to 15.5% moisture content.
Figure 1. Application equipment included a granular applicator (left) and liquid knife applicator (right). The liquid surface applied applicator is not shown.

Figure 2. Climate FieldView™ monitor showing trial planting scheme.


  • The average yield for the trial was 230 bu/acre (Figure 3).
  • Yields by corn product:
    • Several of the tested products demonstrated very high yield potential with DEKALB® DKC68-35 Brand obtaining the highest yield (Figures 3 and 4).
  • Yields by corn product and fertilizer application method:
    • Average yields, by each application method for each DEKALB® Brand corn product, were similar in this study (Figure 5).
    • Weather-related variability was reduced by using Climate FieldView™ data to remove a weather-damaged area from yield data (Figure 6).
    • FieldView™ data helps visualize the effects of rain and temperature on crop production compared to long-term averages (Figure 7).
Figure 3. Average yield (bu/acre at 15.5% moisture content) of five DEKALB® Brand corn products across three fertilizer application treatments.

Figure 4. Average yield (bu/acre at 15.5% moisture content) for each fertilizer application treatment and five DEKALB® Brand corn products.

Figure 5. Average yield of each fertilizer application treatment.

Figure 6. Climate FieldView™ data allowed for the weather-damaged area of the trial to be removed from the harvest area.

Figure 7. Climate FieldView™ data helps visualize effect of rainfall and temperature on crop production.


  • From this data we conclude that timely applications of appropriate fertilizers offer similar results regardless of application method.
  • Growers should continue to focus on economic returns, timeliness of application, and management of risk when applying fertilizer.
  • Appropriate rainfall for the incorporation of surface-applied N remains a major factor in success.
  • Nitrogen stabilizers are particularly important when using either dry- or liquid-applied N applications.
  • Climate FieldView™ data provides useful information to help understand variability that influences corn production.
  • Please contact your local DEKALB® Brand representative for more information.