Report: Growers Along The Chesapeake Manage Nutrients, Protect The Bay

Along the shores of Chesapeake Bay, farmers like Temple Rhodes, of Centreville, MD, prove farming can be productive and profitable while preserving the Bay. Few regions of the country are more closely scrutinized, and Rhodes is not alone in his efforts to reduce nutrient losses from his crop land.

Yesterday, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) released a new Conservation Effectiveness Assessment Project (CEAP) report for the Chesapeake Bay. The assessment indicates that producers in the Bay have significantly increased their conservation measures to improve and protect water quality.

A separate study performed by USDA NRCS and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) to assess the Upper Chester River watershed in Maryland also indicated Bay farmers are taking action.

Complementing the CEAP results, the previous targeted watershed audit of the Upper Chester River found that 97% of the cropped acres had a nutrient management plan with more than 50% of the farmers utilizing multiple practices to manage nitrogen. That assessment was also performed in 2011 using a thorough assessment auditing 53 land owners representing 87% of the watershed acres.

Rhodes has multiple reasons for intensively managing the nutrients he applies to the soil his family depends on to grow corn, soybeans and wheat. As a businessman, he doesn’t want to spend his fertilizer dollars ineffectively. As a grower, he relies on fertilizer to enrich the productivity of the land. And as an avid outdoorsman, Rhodes is serious about the responsibility of taking care of the soil and water resources that enhance his life as well as the lives of the non-farm public.

To achieve his objectives, Rhodes works with Willard Agri-Service, a MD-based agribusiness to implement the 4Rs, fertilizer best management practices selected to apply the right nutrient source, at the right rate, in the right time and in the right place. Willard Agri-Service applies custom liquid fertilizers and crop protectants and offers Chesapeake Bay farmers data collection support and related crop production. Willard Agri-Services has worked closely with Rhodes for many years and believes his farming practices represent the direction many Bay-area farmers are headed.

“Embracing fertilizer best management practices improve yields and profitability of today’s harvests,” says Willard Agri-Service’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Mike Twining. “These same practices also reduce the loss of nutrients to the Bay by converting ever higher percentages of the applied nutrients into healthy food and fiber for human consumption. Our clients are increasingly adopting practices similar to those on Rhodes farm.”

Rhodes’ farming practices offer insight to the types of practices being implanted in the Chesapeake Bay. To reduce nutrient loss, he never applies fertilizer on the soil surface. A modified strip-till planter enables him to place nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium eight inches below the surface for corn and soybean production. That gets nutrients right into the root zone where they’re readily accessible to plants while helping to eliminate runoff and volatilization. Nitrogen is further protected with a stabilizer added to the fertilizer to prevent loss to groundwater. This strip-till strategy puts the right source of nutrients in the right place resulting in better crop yields.

“The question for us was — can we use the same amount of fertilizer in a smarter way and grow a better crop?” Rhodes said. “We’ve proven that we can. The big bump in yield we’ve seen comes from putting the right fertilizer in the right place — right in the strip, right below the seed.”

Rhodes has measured an 18.6-bushel per acre advantage to the system compared to standard no-till production.

Timing is also important. Using his strip-till rig, Rhodes split-applies fertilizer on his corn ground, placing the nutrients about four inches beneath surface just prior to when the crop approaches its peak nutrient demand.

“It’s a matter of fertilizer efficiency,” he said. “We want to apply only what the plant needs, when it needs it.”

Nutrient application at Rhodes’ Chestnut Manor Farms is site-specific, guided by GPS-linked soil maps that enable Rhodes to match the right fertilizer and seeding rates to reflect the potential of specific productivity environments. GPS guidance systems utilizing RTK provide pinpoint accuracy for fertilizer, chemical and seed placement.

Tissue sampling during the growing season is used to assess plant nutrition status at each stage of development so that Rhodes can further fine-tune fertilizer applications.

In addition to high-tech techniques for managing nutrients, the Rhodes plants forage oilseed radishes as a cover crop to retain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium through the winter, reduce soil compaction and prevent erosion. Buffer strips and waterways are also relied on to help protect soil and water.

Just as he takes a diversified approach to nutrient stewardship, his family farm is a model of diversification that seeks to make the most of the land Rhodes manages. The Rhodes family has a commercial Angus cowherd and they harvest straw from their wheat crop, transporting it to Pennsylvania where it is used as a growing medium in mushroom production. A passionate sportsman, Rhodes also guides and hosts turkey, waterfowl, sea duck and deer hunts along the Eastern Shore and raises Labrador Retrievers.

Source: The Fertilizer Institute

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Crop Inputs Stories

Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applications?
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Problems
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Trending Articles
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More