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.

As the U.S. EPA pressures state regulators to follow provisions in the Clean Water Act more closely, many states are drawing up nitrogen management plans that could affect no-tillers in the future.

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…

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Leverich jim

Jim Leverich

No-Till Farmer's Conservation Ag Operator Fellow for 2022, Jim Leverich is a no-till farmer near Sparta, Wis. His 1,000 acre-farm has been in his family since 1864 and no-tilled since 1984. An innovator and educator, Leverich has 35-plus years of no-till and on-farm research experience, and possesses a deep, practical understanding of what makes no-till work. For his contributions while at the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service, Leverich was named the No-Till Innovator of the Year (Research & Education category) in 2006. A talented presenter and writer, Leverich was a regular guest columnist for No-Till Farmer in 2011 when it earned the Gold Medal as the nation’s top newsletter from the American Society of Business Press Editors.

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