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

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
FertilizerOSHA Hammers West Fertilizer With Over $100K In Fines For April Explosion
October 10, 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the parent company of the West Fertilizer plant, Adair Grain Inc., $118,300 for 24 violations. Read More

Trending Articles

EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide Program
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Acquires Lemon Ag Services
August 4, 2014
The acquisition of Lemon Ag fits BRANDT’s aggressive corporate strategy of providing superior agronomic advice and services for customers in central Illinois. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Resurgence Of Crop Protection
August 4, 2014
Plenty of new offerings over the next few years should see a rebirth for the crop protection products category in terms of market share. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More

Latest News

ManagementNCGA DuPont New Leaders Program Enters Sophmore Season
August 20, 2014
The National Corn Growers Association and DuPont are pleased to announce the second year of the NCGA DuPont New Leaders Program. Read More
FungicidesVerdesian Links Up With Mitsui, Hokusan
August 20, 2014
Mitsui Chemicals Agro, Inc., and Hokusan Co., announced the signing of an exclusive licensing agreement allowing Verdesian Life Sciences global access to its patented technology for suppressing mycotoxin contamination in wheat and barley. Read More
SprayersUniversity Of Illinois Introduces New Spray App
August 18, 2014
University of Illinois Extension has released a new smartphone app for making sprayer-related calculations. Pesticide Spray Calculator, or Spray Calc, Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Names New Manager Of Federal Government Relati…
August 18, 2014
Laura Wood Peterson has joined Syngenta as manager of federal government relations, based in Washington, DC. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science …
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Factory Layoffs
August 18, 2014
Deere & Co. has announced it will reduce the size of its manufacturing workforce at some agricultural equipment factories in response to current market demand for its products. Read More
HerbicidesNew DuPont Afforia Herbicide Gives Crops A Clean Start
August 18, 2014
DuPont Afforia is a preplant herbicide for soybeans and other field crops that provides excellent burndown and residual control of many challenging weeds, such as marestail and waterhemp. Read More
Equipment21 Products Showcased At MAGIE 2014
August 18, 2014
The annual Midwest AG Industries Exposition is upon us. Here is CropLife IRON's look at some of the products visitors can expect to see at this week's event. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Seeks Nominations For 2014 Operator Of The Year
August 15, 2014
Ag retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada are encouraged to nominate their best applicators. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More
ManagementCropLife’s Buyers’ Guide Issue Now Availabl…
August 13, 2014
One of our most read issues of the year — the August Buyers' Guide — is ready to download on the iPad. This popular issue features equipment for "In The Field," "At The Plant" and "In The Office." Read More
WebinarsWebinars On Demand
August 13, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
HerbicidesBASF: Fall Burndown Benefits Go Beyond Weed Control
August 12, 2014
While unpredictable weather may delay application timing of spring herbicides, more growers are adding a burndown application in the fall Read More
HerbicidesScouting Key To Next Season’s Soybean Herbicide P…
August 12, 2014
When growing soybeans, growers need to think ahead to stay one step ahead of weeds. That means examining weed threats and evaluating which herbicides work best. Read More
StewardshipNitrogen Efficiency Supports Environmental Stewardship
August 12, 2014
As growers prepare for another harvest, it’s important to consider how nitrogen stabilization not only supports healthy plant growth but also fosters environmental stewardship. Read More
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Introduces 19 New Corn Hybrids For 2015
August 12, 2014
Many of the new hybrids feature Mycogen's SmartStax Refuge Advanced technology for maximum protection of the genetic potential and planting convenience. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces Enlist Ahead App For Enlist…
August 12, 2014
Designed for use with the Enlist Weed Control System, the app is a precision agriculture tool for maximizing weed control performance, managing weed resistance and making responsible applications of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Announces Senior Leadership Team Changes
August 12, 2014
Current CHS strategic leadership team member Shirley Cunningham will assume a new role as executive vice president and chief operating officer, Ag Business and Enterprise Strategy. Read More