ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) invite southern Minnesota farmers to join nearly 150 of their colleagues who have participated since 2006 in a nutrient management evaluation program funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Participating farmers help generate information that can help growers around the state manage inputs in a manner that leads to both healthy crop yields and a healthy environment.

The Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI) program helps farmers fine tune their nutrient application rates with either a higher or lower application rate comparison and evaluate their economic outcomes.  Participating farmers work with a certified crop adviser and set up test comparisons on their own farm.  Upon completion of the program the farmer and certified crop adviser receive an economic analysis based on the farmer’s actual nutrient costs and yields from replicated strips using a yearly average corn price.  Participating farmers receive $1,200 to reimburse them for the certified crop adviser’s fees and the time spent on the project.

The project results demonstrate how corn responds to nitrogen rates on farms across southern Minnesota.  The data helps farmers better understand the effects of key production variables including soil type, new crop genetic efficiencies, and application method and timing.

In 2010, NMI collected data from 49 sites in 26 counties.  Replicated trial sites demonstrated a yield increase of more than 4 bushels per acre 51 percent of the time from the higher nitrogen comparison.  When considering the additional nitrogen costs, an economic advantage resulted half of the time. Corn following soybean crop rotation responded to additional nitrogen 61 percent of the time compared to corn following corn rotation responding only 38 percent of the time.  Split applying nitrogen at different timing intervals resulted in the largest yield and economic advantages.  Control strips where little or no nitrogen was applied resulted in 70 percent of the overall yield as a result of residual nitrogen and soil organic matter contributions.

The program is funded through the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, while MDA assists with this program through promotion, data collection and compilation, and education outreach.  Farmers interested in enrolling in the 2011 NMI program should contact their local USDA-NRCS office or Brian Williams by phone at 507-665-6806 or by email at brian.c.williams@state.mn.us.  Sign up information and program results are available on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/nmi.

Source: Minnesota Department of Agriculture