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Friday, December 9, 2016

Water Quality Issues

In the business of nutrient management, maintaining productive nutrient levels in the soil has been a driving force.  In the modern day world, we need to be more sensitive to the effects of fertilizer on water quality.  High soil test levels of phosphorous can pollute our water and contribute to declining water quality in our rivers lakes and streams.  Keeping soil test levels around ideal will help minimze the loss of phosphorous.  Ideal P1 levels are 25 to 30 ppm.  Ideal Mehlich 3 levels are 30 to 35 ppm.  Multiply the listed levels by 2 if your reports come in pounds per acre.  higher levels may be acceptable on high pH soils.

Nitrogen management is more challenging, although most farms can make improvelents on their nitrogen management as well.  Nitrogen testing, split applications and cutting back on overall rates are all practices that should be looked into. With low crop prices, using the N RATE CALCULATOR will help you determine the rate of return on you nitrogen application and keep nitrogen applications at environmentally friendly levels.  In season soil tests can help you factor in weather during the growing season.  Nitrogen modelling such as is done by Climate Corp may also be useful. Cover crops can convert soil nitrogen into a more stable form for release during the growing season. The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy is saying, don't stand pat on managing your nutrients.  Do something.  Why?  The EPA has found that 4 in 10 Lakes Have Excessive Nitrogen or Phosphorus Levels.   The days of multiplying your expect yield by 1.2 to get your nitrogen rate are over.  You should be giving it more thought than that.

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