Fertilizer rates could be reduced in drought-impacted areas

Reducing fertilizer rates might be the best move for farmers affected by this year’s drought.

University of Minnesota Extension crops educator Brad Carlson says a very dry growing season left a lot of residual nitrogen in the soil.

“Some of it is unused fertilizer because the crop never reached its potential, but there’s also a significant amount that was accumulated from mineralization of soil organic matter. That nitrogen can be credited for next year’s crop.”

He tells Brownfield farmers should take a soil sample this fall or next spring to help determine if fertilizer rates can be adjusted.

“So I guess one major thing farmers could do is take credit for residual nitrogen and reduce their rates, and simply don’t use as much of that really expensive input.”

Carlson says soil tests in western Minnesota are commonly showing residual nitrate levels of more than 80 pounds per-acre.

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