ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Even though harvest is still a month away, many farmers are already planning for the growing season.
That means planning when they’ll use their fertilizer.
The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) recently surveyed farmers to determine their fertility practices and found a significant movement from fall to spring application of nitrogen, according to NREC Executive Director Julie Hewitt.
“We have also seen a move, it’s probably not statistically something huge, but we have seen a move over the years away from fall nitrogen into a spring application,” Hewitt said. “And we know the potential for loss of nitrates in the fall is greater than what it is in the spring. There is a lot of work again to talk about Dr. Nafziger, a lot of his work shows there may not be a negative yield impact to putting fall fertilizer out, but we have been able to document an environmental impact. And so reducing the number of acres that go out in the fall.
“We are not asking to get rid of them but to make sure we are thoughtful and meaningful in those applications is important.”
Hewitt adds efforts have been made that determine how many farmers are doing multiple nitrogen applications in the spring.
“The questions that we ask really align with the strategy, so it is looking at fall and winter application. If over 50% are going out in the spring. And if there is some side-dress. What percentage of the time are folks doing three or more shots. And we have seen an increase in the people that are spreading out their nitrogen applications.”