Menu

Better Nutrient Management With Edge-of-field Monitoring

A new edge-of-field monitoring program allows the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to work with farmers and conservation partners, such as Michigan State University Extension and the River Raisin Watershed Council to evaluate crop nutrients leaving the field in water runoff. This program will help producers understand when and how nutrients escape from the field and thereby tailor management practices that capture nutrients in the root zone for crop use.

The advantage of edge-of-field monitoring compared to in-stream monitoring is that growers find out what nutrients are leaving their fields and not from upstream fields or urban sources. Farm confidentiality is protected by Section 1619 of the 2008 Farm Bill so that any information collected through the process monitoring cannot be shared without written consent of the landowner.

In Michigan, edge-of-field monitoring is currently available in portions of Calhoun, Clinton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Lenawee, Monroe and Shiawassee Counties. Paired sites of approximately three to five acres in size are compared year-round for 6-9 years. The paired sites are selected to have similar soils and other characteristics. One field is left without conservation practices and the other field has one or two conservation practices beginning in the third year to learn how that practice protects soil and water quality.

The monitoring program was developed by United States Geological Survey and has rigorous standards including a data management plan. MSU‘s Institute for Water Research recently hosted an online training to explain the program’s technical requirements, equipment installation and sampling and contractual requirements.

Conservation practices that avoid, control or trap nutrients can be selected. Avoidance practices include cover crops, crop rotation, nutrient management, waste recycling and prescribed grazing. Control of nutrient loss includes irrigation water management, drainage water management, diversion and similar practices. Conservation practices that trap sediment and nutrients include filter strips, conservation covers, wetland restoration, riparian forest buffers and others. The edge-of-field program will not monitor groundwater.

Watershed organizations and others will benefit from the program and can collaborate with farmers by providing financial assistance, helping in the process of collecting the information and maintaining of the equipment. The program will provide a better understanding of the effectiveness of land management practices and the best conservation techniques to use in specific locations.

Financial assistance from NRCS provides about 75 percent of the cost of installation and maintenance for six to nine years. One of the overall goals of the program is to demonstrate that voluntary management practices can effectively protect and meet water quality goals.

The 2015 deadline to apply is July 24. Interested farmers should contact their local USDA service center for more information.

Source: Monica Day, Michigan State University 

Recent News

Soybean Drying, Storage Could Be Challenging
10/16/2019

A challenging soybean harvest this fall is raising many storage and drying questions, according to Ken Hellevang, an agricultural engineer with North Dakota State University Extension. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service on Oct. 6, the percentage of soybeans dropping leaves was 92% in North Dakota, 80% in Minnesota, 78% in South Dakota, 68% […]

Sampling for Soybean Cyst Nematode – Fall is the Time!
10/15/2019

Harvest is well underway and once the soybeans are off the fields this provides some time to sample soil for the SCN populations.  The SCN Coalition theme for the next few years is What’s your number?  Do you know which fields have SCN and what the current population is sitting at?  If its high, then there […]

Corn and Soybeans Move Higher on Supply and Trade
10/15/2019

Strong price rallies in both corn and soybeans closed out the week after a mixed reaction on Thursday.  Corn prices initially fell due to higher than expected production levels.  Severe winter weather over a substantial area of the Corn Belt, along with a possible limited trade deal, brought the subsequent rally on Friday.  If the […]

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now