Corn Grain Yield Trends from 2012 to 2016: A 26-Year Long-Term Experiment
Corn Grain Yield Trends from 2012 to 2016: A 26-Year Long-Term Experiment
J. Rivera-Zayas 0 1
0 Kansas State University , USA
1 Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service , USA
This report is brought to you for free and open access by New Prairie Press. It has
been accepted for inclusion in Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research
Reports by an authorized administrator of New Prairie Press. Copyright 6-2017
Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension
Service. Contents of this publication may be freely reproduced for educational
purposes. All other rights reserved. Brand names appearing in this publication are for
product identification purposes only. K-State Research and Extension is an equal
opportunity provider and employer.
Corn Grain Yield Trends from 2012 to 2016: A 26-Year Long-Term
Long-term research trials provide an understanding of long-term effects on crop production. This long-term
research studied the effect of conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT) systems. Factors of this 22-year
study of corn (Zea mays L.) production also included the application of nitrogen (N) in the forms of
ammonium nitrate and manure at rates of 150 lb/N/a. Corn grain yield trends during 2012 to 2016 were
affected by the interaction between N source and year (P < 0.05). The interaction between tillage practices
and N source and the overall interaction between the last 5 years did not yield performance (P > 0.05). Under
the studied conditions the 75 lb/N/a as N fertilizer or manure achieved high corn yields.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
This Department of Agronomy article is available in Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports:
Corn Grain Yield Trends from
2012 to 2016: A 26-Year Long-Term
J. Rivera-Zayas and C.W. Rice
Long-term research trials provide an understanding of long-term effects on crop
production. This long-term research studied the effect of conventional tillage (CT) and
no-tillage (NT) systems. Factors of this 22-year study of corn (Zea mays L.)
production also included the application of nitrogen (N) in the forms of ammonium nitrate
and manure at rates of 150 lb/N/a. Corn grain yield trends during 2012 to 2016 were
affected by the interaction between N source and year (P < 0.05). The interaction
between tillage practices and N source and the overall interaction between the last 5 years
did not yield performance (P > 0.05). Under the studied conditions the 75 lb/N/a as N
fertilizer or manure achieved high corn yields.
During the 1960s the Green Revolution was able to increase crop yields while
increasing the food supply to reach the demand capacity. Over the last decade, agricultural
yields have increased but soil resources have been depleting as a result of intensive
agricultural practices. At the same time the cost of N fertilizer, one of the main
agricultural inputs for increasing yields, has increased. Currently, the agricultural sector faces
the challenge of increasing production for meeting the demand for 9 billion people by
2050. Currently, farmers face the challenge of increasing crop yields while using more
efficient practices regarding inputs and restoration of soils. The agricultural industry
must identify agricultural practices for corn (Zea mays L.) that will achieve an increase
in yields while maintaining or restoring soil and water resources on a long-term basis.
Agronomic practices such as N fertilization and soil management have a direct effect on
crop yields. Studies have shown how tillage practices have a direct effect on soil physical
properties and soil nutrient availability for crop growth
(Young et al., 2009; Cook and
. In the U.S. corn belt, the two most common soil management practices
for corn production are conventional tillage (CT) and no-tillage (NT). Conservative
soil management with the NT practice offers an increase in physical, chemical, and
biological soil quality characteristics that leads to higher nutrient availability in soils.
The benefits also represent an efficient use of inputs and lower environmental impact.
Under CT practices, soil nutrient dynamics are more susceptible to losses in the
environment by soil erosion, losses to the atmosphere, and leaching
(Cook and Trlica, 2016;
Fernández and Schaefer, 2012; Young et al., 2009)
Soil nutrient additions are usually met by mineral fertilizer or an organic source such
as animal or vegetable manure. Mineral fertilizers tend to be immediately available for
plant uptake, which are easily absorbed, therefore, resulting in higher crop yields.
However, studies have shown how disproportionate use of mineral fertilizer may increase soil
acidity and reduce soil microbial communities. Organic fertilizers, such as cattle
manure (CM) may be more stable in soils, can increase soil organic content, and increase
soil microbial diversity when compared to soils with the addition of mineral fertilizers
(Wang et al., 2007; Li et al., 2015; Busari et al., 2016)
Previous results from the study showed minimum soil disturbance from the NT
practice, nutrient stratification in soil layers from 0-15 in., and higher soil organic carbon
retention (unpublished data). Overall, results from this 26-year long-term experiment
support soil conservation practices as a management tool to achieve competitive yields.
Corn yield trends from 2012 to 2016 validate the long-term effect of the most common
agricultural practices in order to identify the most sustainable agricultural system.
Data were based on the results of a long-term experiment established in 1990 at the
North Farm of Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS (39° 12’ 42’’N, 96° 35’
39’’W). The soil is a moderately well-drained Kennebec silt loam (fine-silty, mixed,
superactive mesic Cumulic Hapludoll); main chemical properties are shown in Table
1. The local average annual precipitation is 31.5 in. and the annual mean temperature is
Corn (Zea mays L.) was grown continuously on the site from 1990 to present. The
tillage practices were CT with a chisel plow and offset disc, and NT with zero soil
disturbance. The N treatments were 75 lb/N/a as ammonium nitrate (LF), 75 lb/N/a
as composted cattle manure (LM), 150 lb/N/a as ammonium nitrate (HF), 150 lb/N/a
as composted cattle manure (HM), and a control (CO) treatment. The CM application
rates were calculated assuming that 100% of the NH +-N was available immediately
after applied and approximately 35% of the organic N was mineralized the first years
following application. Fertilizer N application was during spring before the corn was
planted and manure was broadcast applied.
The experiment was arranged in split-plot randomized blocks with four replications.
The experimental design is a split-split plot with four blocks, tillage as the whole plot
and N source as the split-plot. Data were analyzed with a PROC GLIMMIX with
repeated measurements over time procedure of SAS 9.4 (SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC).
The model included the effects of tillage, fertilizers, and their interaction; which were
considered random. Significant differences were studied with a LSMEANS with Tukey
at a P < 0.05.
The interaction between N source and year significantly affected corn grain yields (P
< 0.05). Harvest yield from 2013 and 2016 showed the higher yields. Lower grain
yields from 2016 were from the CO with 121 bu/a; followed by an average of 176 bu/a
between the other treatments (Figure 1). Yields were lower for all treatments (P < 0.05)
during 2012 with an average of 77 bu/a. The LF treatment showed significant higher
yields during 2013, 2014, and 2016 with 157, 134, and 183 bu/a, respectively. There
was not a significant difference (P < 0.05) between the LF and HF with yields during
2013 and 2016 of 158 and 176, bu/a, respectively. The LM showed higher yields during
2013, 2014, and 2016 with 157, 135, and 172 bu/a, respectively. Additionally, fertilizer
treatments of LM and HM were not significant. Higher yields were recorded for HM
during 2013, 2014, and 2016 with 155, 150, and 181 bu/a, respectively.
Overall, there was no difference between grain yields during 2013, 2014, and 2016 for
the LF, LM, and HM treatments; this also includes the 2013 and 2016 HF treatments.
Lower yields during 2012 and 2015 may be a result of weather conditions such as
Cook , R. L. , and Trlica , A. 2016 . Tillage and fertilizer effects on crop yield and soil properties over 45 years in Southern Illinois . Agronomy Journal , 108 ( 1 ), 415 - 426 . http://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2015.0397
Fernández , F. G. , and Schaefer , D. 2012 . Assessment of soil phosphorus and potassium following real time kinematic-guided broadcast and deep-band placement in striptill and no-till . Soil Science Society of America Journal , 76 ( 3 ), 1090 - 1099 . http:// doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2011.0352
Li , J. , J.M. Cooper , Z. Lina , Y. Lia , X. Yanga , B . Zhao ( 2015 ). “Soil microbial community structure and function are significantly affected by long-term organic and mineral fertilization regimes in the North China Plain . ” Applied Soil Ecology 96 : 75 - 87 .
Wang , X.B. , D.X. Cai , W.B. Hoogmoed , O. Oenema , and U.D. Perdok . 2007 . Developments in conservation tillage in rainfed regions of North China . Soil and Tillage Research , 93 , 239 - 250 .
Young , R. R. , Wilson, B. , Harden , S. , Bernardi , A. 2009 . Accumulation of soil carbon under zero tillage cropping and perennial vegetation on the Liverpool Plains, eastern Australia . Australian Journal of Soil Research , 47 ( 3 ), 273. http://doi. org/10.1071/SR08104