Evaluation of Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) and Subsurface Drip Fertigation (SDF) on Grain Corn (Zea mays L.) in Southern Alberta

Csöff, Gary
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University of Guelph

Corn (Zea mays L.) yield in Brooks, Alberta (AB) is highly dependent on water and nitrogen (N) availability. Four experiments were initiated in 2016 to evaluate the use of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) and fertigation (SDF) on grain corn in Brooks, AB. The objectives of the studies were to (i) determine if SDF is possible in AB, (ii) explore the benefits of N application via SDF, (iii) explore the benefits of irrigation via SDI in the region and (iv) investigate yield response to varying N amounts with SDI corn production in this region. N was applied to the crop via two separate methods: Preplant incorporated (PPI) UAN 28% or Urea, or UAN 28% injected via the SDF system. Expected corn yields were used for determining the surface applied PPI Urea N rates of 0, 28, 56, 112, 224 kg N/ha. The experiments were arranged in a four replicate, 12 treatment randomized complete block design. N fertilizer applied via the SDF system at a rate of 112 kg N/ha yielded an average of 31% better (p<0.05) across both previous crops, compared to surface applied N. Planting corn after soybeans had a yield advantage of 6% which is significant at p<0.05.

Fertigation, Grain Corn, subsurface drip irrigation