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Refining Nutrient Needs with Smart, Targeted Testing

The 14th class of Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners shares insights into how soil and sap testing, monitoring moisture and spoon feeding are leading to big reductions in on-farm fertilizer applications.

Recognized for their successful fertilizer application practices, Brooks Garland, of Lee, Fla., Adam Chappell of Cotton Plant, Ark., and Paul Overby of Wolford, N.D., were honored as the 14th class of Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners at the 2022 National No-Tillage Conference in Louisville, Ky.

The annual award is sponsored by AgroLiquid and No-Till Farmer. Below is a synopsis of each farmer’s fertilizer program.

Brooks Garland, Lee, Fla.

Monitoring soil moisture has helped north Florida farmer Brooks Garland narrow in on his sweet spot for irrigation and nutrient application. 

Since installing around 37 soil moisture probes with electrical conductivity (EC) sensors, Garland has a more precise look at what’s happening in his super sandy soils. The knowledge has resulted in 250,000 pounds less nitrogen (N) and 200 million gallons less water applied per year to the 11,000 acres he farms.

Despite getting an average precipitation of 54 inches per year, water moves quickly through Garland’s extremely sandy soils. Most acres are irrigated to keep moisture in the root zone of these fast-drying soils. But more water moving through the soil is more likely to take N with it. With soil sensors installed in every pivot circle, Garland only applies water when needed.

“Whether it’s rain or irrigation, I know the true moisture content of my soil in 4-inch increments to a 24-inch depth,” he says.

He’s greatly reduced overwatering, which contributed to moving nutrients out of his root zone. The EC sensors help pick up the salts in potassium (K)…

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Martha mintz new

Martha Mintz

Since 2011, Martha has authored the highly popular “What I’ve Learned About No-Till” series that has appeared in every issue of No-Till Farmer since August of 2002.


Growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Montana, Martha is a talented ag writer and photographer who lives with her family in Billings, Montana.

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