Using Spoke Wheel Injectors for Improved N Use Efficiency in Dry Bulb Onions

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  • 1 Univ. of Minnesota, Southern Experiment Station, Waseca, MN 56093-4521, and Dept. of Soil Science, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108.

Recent adoption of a raised bed production system for improved drainage on muck soils prompted experimentation to improve N use efficiency. The established methods of N fertilization was to simply broadcast 908 kg·ha–1 of 10–26–27 prior to planting in single rows. The raised bed production system results in a concentrated rooting zone directly underneath the raised bed. A system that places the N fertilizer within the root zone of influence at a peak time of crop utilization would increase N use efficiency, reduce fertilizer costs, and promote appropriate environmental stewardship. The use of a spoke wheel injector to sidedress N fertilizer effectively reduced total fertilizer costs by half, while producing onion yields equal to or greater than the established broadcast method under the raised bed production system. In addition, the use of the spoke wheel injector was not intrusive to the integrity of the raised bed, which allowed realization of benefits from using raised beds for the entire growing season.

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