The Effects of Topdressing Organic Nitrogen on Hard Red Winter Wheat Yield and Quality: Part II

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2011: $14,186.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Northeast
State: Vermont
Project Leader:
Dr. Heather Darby
University of Vermont Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: wheat


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: participatory research
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization

    Proposal abstract:

    The demand for local organic food is steadily increasing throughout Vermont and New England. Consumers are asking for bread baked with locally grown wheat; however bakers have been slow to incorporate local wheat flour because of the challenges associated with obtaining grains that consistently meet bread-baking standards. Addressing the quality issue is essential for expanding the bread flour market in the northeast. One of the major quality factors facing Vermont grain producers is protein content. Much of the wheat currently produced in Vermont has protein levels below what most commercial mills would consider suitable for flour production. Assuring adequate available nitrogen (N) for grain yield and protein are the primary challenges of organic winter wheat production in New England. Topdressing N to increase protein quantity and quality is recommended for conventionally grown wheat, but the effectiveness of topdressing organic N sources needs evaluation. In 2010, we were awarded a partnership grant titled “The Effects of Topdressing Organic Nitrogen on Wheat Protein”, to explore the relationship between topdressing organic nitrogen amendments, the application times, and how these two factors influence the quality and quantity of grain protein, on farm. First year results demonstrated that topdressing can have a positive impact on both yield and quality. However, one year of data is not adequate to confidently recommend that farmers begin changing fertility practices. We are resubmitting this grant with the intent to collect a second year of data to verify our results.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The objective of this project is to determine if topdressing wheat with organic N sources during critical uptake periods will improve overall yield and quality. In collaboration with our co-operating farmer, we will continue to assess three different organic N sources; composted chicken manure, Chilean nitrate, and Pro-Booster, applied at two different times during the growing season; spring application, application at flag leaf, and a combination of the two.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.