N-WATCH Soil Testing Program Helps Improve Nitrogen Management

In fall 2012, the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (CBMP) launched the N-WATCH soil testing program to educate the agricultural industry about residual nitrogen left over from the 2012 drought-stricken corn crop and to provide farmers a tool to inventory and track the residual nitrogen. Great interest in the program resulted in over 300 field locations throughout the state participating in N-WATCH.

CBMP has been actively working with farmers, agriculture organizations, universities and government agencies to increase knowledge and adoption of scientifically based nutrient management practices to minimize environmental impact, optimize input use and maximize crop yields. In addition to N-WATCH, the Keep it for the Crop (KIC) by 2025 initiative is a detailed program of education and outreach. Led by Dan Schaefer, CBMP’s director of nutrient stewardship, KIC is recognized for its innovative efforts to engage agriculture retailers and farmers in adopting in-field nutrient rate trials and to manage nutrient applications with a systems-based approach based on the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship: right source, right rate, right time, right place.

Steve Stierwalt, a central Illinois farmer, comments that “because of the N-Watch results, I cut back on the amount of nitrogen I would have normally used last fall. I now have better understanding of the nitrogen cycle and the effect of water on nitrates so I will expand my acres in the N-Watch program in 2013.”

The Illinois Department of Agriculture fertilizer sales reports reveal that farmers reduced fall nitrogen application by 63,506 tons in the fall of 2012 compared to 2011. This clearly demonstrates that farmers are changing their management of applied nitrogen.

Mike Plumer, who is CBMP’s coordinator, also provided programming in 105 cover crop management programs in 2012-2013 across the Midwest, reaching 10,187 farmers and government agency personnel. A Web-based cover crop “decision tool” was developed for Illinois which allows Illinois farmers to select the best cover crops for their farm. Cover crops have been shown to be an excellent management tool to hold nutrients in the field, with early monitoring results showing significant reduction in nutrient losses.

CBMP works in cooperation with the University of Illinois to continue to develop ways to help farmers increase utilization of soil nitrogen through sustainable changes in management practices. Dr. Howard Brown, GROWMARK, an agronomist and CBMP interim director of nutrient utilization, leads the program and is collecting data, coordinating the research and expanding the science and adoption of these programs.

“The challenge agriculture faces with nitrogen management is complex since it is significantly affected by both the environment and soil,” he said. “It is not just about how and when a farmer applies nitrogen, the environment can always over-rule decisions made. It is more about providing the farmer with management tools to minimize the risk of losing nitrogen as a result of the environment and to improve utilization by the growing crop.

“The N-WATCH program is a new tool for farmers to use in their continued quest for better nitrogen management. Farmers and agriculture retailers take seriously their commitment to environmental stewardship,” Brown added.

CBMP continues to develop and promote practices to reduce nutrient losses from the agriculture sector. These efforts are funded in part by the Nutrient Research & Education Council.

CBMP’s members include Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Illinois Pork Producers and Syngenta Crop Protection. For information about KIC 2025, cover crop management, or how to participate in the N-WATCH program, contact the Council on Best Management Practices at 309-827-2774.

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More