The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) invites Minnesota farmers and crop advisers to participate in a unique on-farm nutrient management program that can help water quality while managing production costs. Participants in the Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI) evaluate different nitrogen management practices on their own farms through the use of replicated side-by-side field trials. The results of these trials can help farmers fine-tune their nutrient management practices to increase efficiency and profitability. In addition, the results of advanced trials will help the University of Minnesota refine and update their current nitrogen fertilizer recommendations.
The MDA is encouraging farmers and crop advisers in northwest and west-central Minnesota to participate. This is an area of the state where participation has been lower in the past and the MDA would like to increase the number of nitrogen trials.
Participating farmers work with a crop adviser to set up trials on their own fields. Participating farmers receive a total of $800, while crop advisers receive $400 per site enrolled. Participant identification is kept confidential; overall program results are used for outreach and shared with other participants to compare various practices within the same region.
The NMI offers field trials for the following practices: nitrogen rate, stabilizer products, and timing evaluations. When utilized effectively, these trials can help to increase nitrogen management efficiency, profitability, as well as demonstrate practices that help reduce nitrate-nitrogen losses to surface and groundwater sources.
In 2015 and 2016, 269 on-farm field trial sites were established statewide. The majority of these sites were located in southeast and south-central Minnesota. As a result of this work, many co-ops and crop advisers utilized the NMI to promote management strategies and equipment to improve fertilizer efficiency and yields for their customers. Some crop advisers also held winter meetings to discuss field trial results with all of their participants. Starting in 2016, the MDA partnered with the University of Minnesota to offer Advanced Nitrogen Rate Evaluations. These sites include addition replications and data is used to help guide the University’s current nitrogen rate recommendations.
The program is funded through the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment. The MDA assists with this program through promotion, outreach, and payment for participation. More on-farm trials are available in northwest and west-central Minnesota. For more information or to enroll in the 2017 NMI, visit the Nutrient Management Initiative Program in Minnesota website or contact Ryan Lemickson at 612-209-9181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen Sommerfeld, MDA Communications