Darrell Bruggink (left) of No-Till Farmer and Dale Ruff (right) of Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers stand with the Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners Program award winners for 2015 – (left to right) Ed Draper, Jim Glover and Joe Breker.

CINCINNATI, Ohio — Three farmers have been honored for their efficient and effective use of applied fertilizer in their no-till systems. Considered Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners, the no-tillers were honored Friday before 900 growers during the 23rd annual National No-Tillage Conference.

Ed Draper of Queenstown, Md.; Joe Breker of Havana, N.D.; and Jim Glover of Waterford, Pa., each shared five practices they utilize on their farms in an effort to use only necessary amounts of applied fertilizer and make sure that it’s used by crops rather than lost to the environment.

All nominees for the seventh annual program answered more than 20 questions about their farming operations through an online application. Their responses were graded by a panel of fertility experts. The highest scorers were awarded the honor, along with complimentary travel to the conference and lodging from Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers and conference registration from No-Till Farmer. Agro-Culture and No-Till Farmer are co-sponsors of the Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners Program.

Following are snapshots of fertility practices utilized by these no-tillers:

While there are some similarities in these farmers’ fertility programs, we see differences at times with the formulations of fertilizer they apply. What they have in common is they are very aware of what their fertility needs are and apply only what amounts the crop needs to produce high yields,” says Dale Ruff, programs specialist for Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers, who introduced the winners during a special luncheon at the National No-Tillage Conference. “Their aim is to produce high yields with minimum impact on the environment.

  • Draper, program manager for Wye Angus near Queenstown, Md., manages 500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, alfalfa and orchardgrass with a 150-head Angus herd. Located on a peninsula bordered by the Wye River, the farm sidedresses much of its nitrogen after laying down some at-plant as a starter. Micronutrients are applied as needed based on soil tests and plant tissue analysis. Manure is analyzed and applied through a nutrient management plan. They also use cover crops to scavenge for nutrients.
  • Breker is a 35-year veteran of no-till who has participated in fertilizer studies to help develop application rates for North Dakota – work that guided the reduced rates used in his own operation. He bands fertilizer, precision placing it for small grains with an Amity disc drill fitted with banding equipment. Anhydrous ammonia is placed in a 3-by-3-inch pattern near the seed row, while dry phosphate is applied with seed as a starter
  • Glover has no-tilled within 20 miles of Lake Erie for the past decade. He soil tests every two years and dry bands 15-28-15 starter fertilizer based on soil test analysis. He also topdresses urea when the corn is knee-high to near the canopy stage. He also uses products that protect nitrogen and phosphorus against loss, and works extensively with cover crops.

Nominations are now being accepted for the eighth class of Responsible Nutrient Management Practitioners to be honored at the 24th annual National No-Tillage Conference in Indianapolis from Jan. 6-9, 2016. Contact Darrell Bruggink of No-Till Farmer at dbruggink@lesspub.com for more information on the program.