(Posted Wed. Dec 2nd, 2015)

The Soil Health Partnership helps lead a soil health symposium this week, providing researchers, farmers and conservation professionals a forum to discuss successful innovations in agricultural sustainability. Hosted by the Soil and Water Conservation Society, the “Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring Conference” is underway Dec. 1 through 3 in Memphis, Tenn.


Speaking at the conference, agronomist and soil scientist Nick Goeser, SHP director, emphasized the importance of helping farmers adopt more precise nutrient management through standardized on-farm nitrogen trials.


“Farmers need to know and understand what they can do to improve nutrient use efficiency in their systems and the associated costs to change,” Goeser said. “We want them to consider on-farm testing of fertilizer rate, timing, source and location to make sure nutrients end up in the crop rather than the water supply.”


Goeser also emphasized that University and industry plot scale research has moved agriculture forward in successful nitrogen management, but there is still a gap in translational research conducted on-farm.


“We need to better understand the driving factors for change – and their associated costs – in order to bring practical and meaningful results to farmers,” he said.


Standardized and consistent methodology is critical for data quality and for results that can be brought back to the agricultural community.  It’s one area where the Soil Health Partnership, a National Corn Growers Association initiative, can help.


“The Soil Health Partnership is uniquely positioned to gather this valuable data in real farm situations across multiple states over a five-year period,” Goeser added. “Our farmer partners are committed to the future and sustainability of farming.”


The conference highlighted the progress and issues surrounding nutrient reduction goals in the Mississippi River Basin as well as the Great Lakes Basin.  The SHP was part of the agricultural symposium examining nutrient management, conservation tillage, cover crops and water management.