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2017 Projects: Updating of the New York Corn Yield Database

What do NY Corn Fields Really Yield and do Higher Yielding Fields Need More Nitrogen?

Research on New York farms over the past decade has shown that although for many sites, the corn yield potentials recorded in the Cornell soil database are in line with actual yields obtained, there are notable exceptions. Yield potentials drive the N guidelines for corn and although higher yields can be obtained without the need for additional N, these exceptions illustrate greater crop nutrient removal at these locations and point to the need to re-evaluate yield potentials for corn in New York.

In 2013, we initiated a 2-year pilot study based on two questions identified by Northern NY farmers and researchers alike: (1) with gains in corn genetics and overall crop production, should the corn yield potentials that currently drive Cornell guidelines for N fertilizer and manure use for corn be raised?; and (2) does higher productivity mean more N needs to be supplied through manure and/or fertilizer or are new varieties just better able to make use of existing N, requiring a change in the Cornell University N guidelines for corn? In the first 2 years, we gathered yield and corn stalk nitrate test (CSNT) data, pioneering a new “adaptive management” approach in which farmers can override the Cornell recommendation if yield is measured and documented, and CSNT management over time is targeted to be below 3000 ppm (agronomic cutoff is 2000 ppm). Fourteen fields yielded less than 90% of the Cornell yield potential for the soil type, nine fields exceeded the Cornell yield potential by more than 10%, while another eleven were within 10% of the listed yield potential. On average, yield across all sites equaled the listed yield potential for the sites.

The project showed that a much larger database is needed. We are currently working with producers and planners to collect whole-farm yield map data for all corn fields harvested with yield monitors across multiple years and processing the data to determine average yield for each field and within field by soil type.

If you are interested in participating, contact Quirine Ketterings (qmk2@cornell.edu or 607-255-3061). You can also write to: Quirine Ketterings, Nutrient Management Spear Program, Department of Animal Science, Cornell University, 323 Morrison Hall, Ithaca NY 14853.

Goals

    Our goals are to evaluate the Cornell corn yield database by building a large database of actual yields for specific soil types in New York, and to determine if higher yielding fields or areas within fields need more N through evaluation of corn stalk nitrate test (CSNT) results and yield data.

Funding Sources

This project has been sponsored by grants from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) and federal formula funds.

Additional Resources

Farmer Impact Stories

Fact Sheets

Extension Articles

Journal Articles

  • Long, E., Q.M. Ketterings, D. Russell, F. Vermeylen, and S.D. DeGloria (2016). Assessment of yield monitoring equipment for dry matter and yield of corn silage and alfalfa/grass. Journal of Precision Agriculture. DOI: 10.1007/s11119-016-9436-y.
  • Long, E., and Q.M. Ketterings (2016). Factors of yield resilience under changing weather evidenced by a 14-years record of corn-hay yield in a 1000-cow dairy farm. Agronomy for Sustainable Development. DOI: 10.1007/s13593-016-0349-y.