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

InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
InsecticidesEPA Grants Besiege Insecticide Additional Approvals
June 18, 2014
EPA has granted additional registration approvals for the use of Syngenta's Besiege insecticide on sorghum, cereal grains and peanuts. Read More
HerbicidesArysta Touts Burndown Herbicide For Brome Management In Wheat
June 4, 2014
Arysta LifeScience North America recommends PRE-PARE Burndown Herbicide for effective brome management in winter wheat. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More