Reducing Soil & Nutrient Loss By Cutting Nitrogen Rates
Northwest Counties, OH

Grantee: Conservation Action Project
Basin Program Funds: $29,500
Non-federal Funds: $27,369
Project Duration: 07/2003 - 12/2005
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The amount of farms applying conservation tillage methods, especially in corn production, is decreasing in Northwest Ohio.

There are approximately 1.5 million acres of cropland in the seven county Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Paulding, Williams and Wood County area. Eighty percent of this land in the Maumee River Watershed is in corn and soybean production. By 1997, it became evident that conservation and no tillage soil and nutrient loss reduction efforts were having trouble maintaining and/or increasing the number of acres being farmed with these methods. The crop residues left on the soil surface to abate erosion rates were causing soils to stay cold and wet. In an effort to combat this problem, in 1997 the Conservation Action Project developed a program to equipped 45 farms with yield monitor and global positioning systems. These farms participated in residue management demonstrations in an effort to increase conservation tillage in the area. These efforts did not result in enough area farmers using conservation tillage methods. Acceptable soil and nutrient loss levels were not achieved. As a result, there is a still need to evaluate the factors that hinder a farmerís wiliness to adopt nutrient and soil loss reduction practices in order to increase application of these practices in the watershed.

Twenty-five farms were selected to continue nutrient and soil loss prevention demonstration plots during 2003 & 2004. Ten farms chosen included nitrogen two year test plots. Their data was to be submited to the Conservation Action Project (CAP). Treatments of the normal farm application rate, -10% rate, -20% rate and a soil test value determined rate, were replicated four times in each plot. Fields were scouted during the growing season to insure quality data, to remove or account for field variables that affect yield, and to assist farmers by inspecting fields for planter performance, plant growth, insect, disease, weed, drainage and fertility problems. Scouting reports were given directly to the farmer after each inspection and to the local dealer servicing the farming operation. All fields, plots and treatments within the plot were geo referenced. This allows evaluation within one-meter accuracy throughout the field.

The twenty farms were monitored during the growing season for rainfall totals and integrated pest management to insure plot integrity. The yield data from these plots were collected and analyzed for integrity. Interns were hired to monitor and evaluate the participating plot locations for the 2004/2005 growing seasons. Data gathered from these plots were reported on at the Ohio Federation of Soil & Water Conservation Districts annual conference and the Conservation Tillage and Technology conference in Ada, Ohio. Data gathered was shared with all plot participants

The twenty farms were successful in getting the demonstration plots planted on schedule with crops emerging uniformly throughout plots for the 2005 growing season. All plots were designed, flagged and geo-referenced by the Conservation Action Project (CAP) to insure viable data collection and analysis. Pre-sidedress Nitrogen Tests were taken on appropriate plots to determine proper application rates of commercial nitrogen fertilizers. Rain gauges were placed at each plot to measure and record rainfall data to evaluate how rainfall affects the plot over a wider geographical area as well as over several different soil types. A presentation on the project was made at a Williams County SWCD field day to promote conservation practices from a tillage and nutrient stand point there were approximately 60 attendees. All yield data was analyzed and summarized and shared with all participants.

Annual and final results will be published in the CAP website, in the quarterly CAP Newsletter sent to 1700 interested persons, and in local newspapers. Two educational events were held in the Summer/Fall 2003 and the Winter 2004 within the seven county area in cooperation with local Soil and Water Districts and Ohio State University (OSU) Extension.

Contact: Mr. Todd Hesterman, (419) 592-1204


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