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Barley fertilizer guidelines


The fall soil nitrate test
Figure 1. The fall soil nitrate test should be used for nitrogen recommendations in the counties that are shaded.

In Minnesota, barley is either grown for malting or as a feed grain. This intended use affects the guidelines for nitrogen (N) use. Barley can replace corn in a livestock ration. It is a good alternative for corn where soils are droughty and corn yields are frequently limited by moisture stress.

Nitrogen fertilizer guidelines can be based on the results of the soil NO3-N test or the consideration of expected yield, previous crop, and soil organic matter content. We suggest using the soil NO3-N test in shaded areas of western Minnesota (see Figure 1).

Use these guideline calculations for fertilizer N:

Malting barley

  • NRec = [(1.5) x YG] - STN(0-24 in.) - NPC

Feed grain barley

  • NRec = [(1.7) x YG] - STN(0-24 in.) - NPC


EY = expected yield (bu./acre)NO3-N

STN = nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N) measured to a depth of 24 in. (lb./acre) NO3-N

Npc = amount of N supplied by the previous legume crop (lb./acre). NO3-N

Table 1 summarizes these N credits.


Phosphate and potash

Tables 4 and 5 list guidelines for phosphate and potash fertilizer use, respectively. In general, you can use lower rates of phosphate and potash if placed in a band near the seed. Compared to a broadcast application, you can reduce rates by 1/2 if using a banded application.


Other nutrients

The use of sulfur (S) and copper (Cu) may be important for optimum barley production in limited situations. If barley is grown on sandy soils, either broadcast 25 lb. S/acre or use 10-12 lb. S/ acre with the drill at planting. You will not need sulfur for barley grown on fine-textured soils.

Table 6 summarizes the Cu suggestions. You will not need copper  in a fertilizer program when barley is grown on mineral soils. In Minnesota, barley has not responded to the use of zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and boron (B) in a fertilizer program.


Daniel E. Kaiser, Extension nutrient management specialist

Reviewed in 2018

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