Proper nutrient management is essential for crop production and preventing excessive nutrient loss that impacts our water quality.
Nutrient management goes beyond applying fertilizer. It is about knowing your soil, your farming operation, sensitive areas, and current regulations.
Look up my farm’s Soil
Why you should soil test?
By knowing what’s the physical characteristics and nutrient supply of our soil can help manage our farming operation to reduce costs and maximize production. In many cases, farmers find their soil may have adequate nutrients needed for the next year’s crop which results in instant savings on your annual fertile costs.
Go beyond one test per field or soil type and consider grid testing. This type of testing provides a detail plan of where your nutrients, ph, etc are highest and lowest within the field. Grid testing is a precursor for variable rate fertile application which can save even more money by putting fertilizer right were its needed and not where it’s just going to wash off.
4R Nutrient Stewardship
Proper fertilizer management can make all the difference between healthy crops or just watching your investment wash away in a heavy rain. Following the 4Rs or four RIGHTS of fertilizer management helps you benefit while protecting the environment.
RIGHT Source – Choose the right type of fertilizer for your plant availability and soil properties
RIGHT Rate – Assess plant demand, soil nutrient supply and predict fertilizer efficiency to establish rate of application
RIGHT Time – Assess the timing of crop uptake, weather factors, and dynamics of soil nutrient supply before applying
RIGHT Place – manage spatial variability of nutrient supply, limit off field transport, fit needs of tillage system when applying
For more information on the 4R Approach visit www.4Rtommorow.org
Drainage from surface and tile water can carry excessive nutrients from the field to Lake Erie. Although adequate tile drainage helps to reduce surface run-off which often causes erosion and nutrient loss, recent studies have determined about 40% of nutrient loss occurs in tile drainage. To help reduce the loss of these valuable nutrients drainage management systems can be installed at the outlets to reduce the flow of excess nutrients and water.
These systems can be fully opened when drainage is needed to work in the fields and restricted post planting or post harvest when full drainage is not needed. This type of system is NOT designed to flood a field. Instead, the system can be an asset to collect and store water that can be used for the crop during the drier months.
Structures that help to drain depressional areas in farm fields can potentially carry highly concentrated nutrient laden water into the tile system. Installing a blind inlet in place of the typical inlet creates a sand/stone filled sump with a perforated underdrain that forces the water to filter before entering the tile. The filtering system is installed below grade; eliminating the “stand pipe” obstruction and reducing the amount of nutrients escaping the farm.