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Sunday, December 6, 2015

What I Brought Home from the Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Conference

I looked at notes from Day 3 of the conference and found little new information.  What I brought home was:

  • Monitoring runoff and nutrient loading is difficult and expensive.
  • We don't always find the answers we think we will.
  • A little phosphorous in your water can be a big problem.
  • Controlling nutrient releases is not an exact science.
  • Conservative use of fertilizer can have a positive impact on water quality.
  • Watch out for unintended consequences.
  • Guidelines are scarce for farmers or consultants who want to do monitoring in a practical way. 
I was not sure what to think of a presentation by Brittany Hanrahan of Notre Dame University on the first day of the conference.  She set up her study to monitor the effects of cover crops on water quality in a small watershed in Indiana.  She monitored her outflows every 2 weeks.  Her results showed a positive effect from conservation practices applied.  As I listened to all the other presentations I could see that her study was not very sophisticated compared to all the others; yet she got what seemed to be valid results that showed a positive impact.  Somehow we need people like Hanrahan to lead us to a practical side of monitoring so that farmers can set up their own studies to guide decisions.

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