Managing Nitrogen Practices Now Will Provide Benefits
No-tillers who research the most efficient timing, placement and method of nitrogen application can reduce environmental losses and still increase yields.
With this increased scrutiny in mind, nearly 300 stakeholders in agriculture — including farmers, university researchers, state and federal officials and the private sector — attended the recent Wisconsin Nitrogen Science Summit hosted by the University of Wisconsin
This event kicked off a series of roundtable discussions on nitrogen management planned over the next year across the U.S.
The summit served as a forum to discuss what is realistic, and unrealistic, when it comes to managing nitrogen applications, and how we can reduce nutrient losses to the environment.
Several scientists and panelists discussed how nitrogen is currently managed, what farmers are doing to improve it, and what questions about nitrogen use must be answered if management is to be further improved.
The contributions to nutrient loading from both livestock production and non-ag sources were also discussed as the group sought to identify the need and potential for new tools to better manage nitrogen.
Technology Tools. Scientists at the summit said natural nitrogen systems are very leaky and it may be hard for growers to improve nitrogen-use efficiency.
But that doesn’t mean that EPA pressure on agriculture will disappear. Growers must learn more about the form, timing and placement of nitrogen to tighten up applications and reduce environmental losses.
One solution is precision technology that let growers apply nitrogen at variable rates to different field areas. Another tool is using three-dimensional soil testing to determine how well nitrogen will hold in the soil.
This information helps growers decide if nitrogen should…