“These cover crops provide a multitude of benefits, one of which is they absorb and tie up remaining nutrients that may otherwise runoff in a storm event,” Hall further states “they also prevent soil erosion, and when soil leaves farm fields it carries nutrients and other contaminants with it. If we stop the erosion, we stop the nutrients too.” Cover crops are also a key component for improving soil health, increasing organic matter and improving soil structure, all of which provide a better growing environment for crops.
Farmers are also implementing a not so noticeable practice. 4R Nutrient Management is the practice of applying fertilizers at the Right Rate, at the Right Time, in the Right Place and in the Right Form. “Producers want their fertilizer to work for them and that means it must remain in the crop field. The 4R concept increases the likelihood that applied fertilizers will remain in the field where they will be utilized by the growing crop.” says Hall. “Producers have moved their fertilizer applications from the fall to the spring, closer to when the crop will need it and are split applying fertilizer at different stages of crop growth, which greatly reduces the chance that it will runoff before the crop can use it.”
While nutrient management itself is not a new concept, new technologies are allowing producers to fine tune their nutrient management skills and apply fertilizer in key locations and at key times to maximize crop yields. Global Positioning Systems and Variable Rate Technology have allowed farmers to adjust the amount of fertilizer applied to a field according to the varying soil test analysis. According to Hall, “this technology allows the producer to apply less fertilizer in areas of the field that don’t need as much and apply more in areas that need more to grow the crop.”
If you are interested in learning more about these practices or the programs offered by the Crawford SWCD, contact the office at 419-562-8280. You can also visit their website at www.crawfordswcd.org
Source: Crawford County SWCD.