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
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
ManagementUnited Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes Merger & Crop Update
July 2, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the reasons behind the United Suppliers/Land ‘O Lakes merger and USDA’s recent Read More
Industry NewsBioSafe Adds To Sales Force
July 2, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the hire of two new members for its service team. David Britt recently joined the team Read More
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More