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The Manitoba Corn Initiative: Fertilization strategies for alternative tillage systems for corn production

Crop Types
  • Corn
Collaborating Locations


Most crops in the Prairies show substantial improvement in early season vigour, maturity and yield for placing P fertilizer in or near the seed row, especially when root growth and soil P availability is poor due to cold soils. However, most corn planters lack the capacity for placing P in or near the seed. Options to consider for addressing this issue include adding fertilizer side-banding equipment to planters and precision pre-plant banding P during strip tillage, for examples.


This project is a part of the larger Manitoba Corn Initiative - Corn Agronomy, fertility and agrometeorology. Overall objectives for the program include:

  1. Identify the best crops to grow prior to corn in a rotation
  2. Evaluate fertilization strategies for corn grown after canola
  3. Conduct an economic analysis of optimal crop rotations involving corn
  4. Identify optimum corn residue management strategies
  5. Evaluate fertilization strategies for alternative tillage systems for corn production
  6. Evaluate the corn heat unit system for Manitoba


This residue management study evaluated corn response to fall banded and spring side banded P fertilizer in strip-tillage and conventional tillage. Treatments included a control (no P), two rates of P (30 and 60 kg P2O5 ha-1) in the form of MAP, applied either in the fall as a deep band (10-13 cm deep) with a strip-till unit or in the spring as a side band with a corn planter. At Carman in 2015 and 2016, spring side banded P treatments increased early season biomass by up to 103% compared to the unfertilized controls. Spring side banded P treatments consistently increased early season P concentration in plant tissue and P uptake at all site-years, relative to the unfertilized control. Banded P treatments reduced days to silking by 2-3 d compared to the unfertilized control. At harvest, banded P treatments reduced moisture by 1-2 g kg-1 at both site-years in 2016. Spring side band P treatments increased grain yield by
8 an average of 467 kg ha-1 relative to the unfertilized control and out-yielded the fall deep banded treatments by 470 kg ha-1, regardless of the tillage treatment.

Key Takeaways

  1. Fall strip tillage for corn can provide soil conservation benefits of reduced tillage compared to conventional tillage without penalty
  2. Starter fertilizer close to the seed allowed corn to have excellent access to P
  3. Side-banded P at planting is agronomically superior to precision fall deep-banding for corn, keeping n mind the fall banded placement in this study was deeper compared to most common fall applications in MB.

Project Resources

Project Details

Principal Investigator
Dr. Derek Brewin
Project Status
Start Date
Completion Date
Funding Partners
MB Agriculture
Total Project Cost
MCA Funding

Field Issues

  • Crop Rotation,
  • Other