Nitrogen is the plant nutrient required in the largest quantity, the most likely to be deficient, and the most impactful on corn yield as well as grower profit. Providing N to a corn crop in the right amount while minimizing loss is difficult because of complex biological and chemical reactions that result in the loss of N from the crop root zone via deep percolation to ground water, lateral flow, runoff and erosion to surface waters, and volatile losses to the atmosphere as ammonia, nitrogen gas, nitric oxide, nitrous oxide, etc. Increasing crop utilization of N and reducing loss of N outside the field is important to the sustainability of corn production in the Corn Belt.
Soil Science Extension
University of Wisconsin Madison