Online tool prevents fertilizer runoff

An online tool uses weather and soil information to help farmers prevent spreading fertilizer when there is a risk of runoff. 

Andrea Topper

Andrea Topper is with Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.  She tells Brownfield the potential for runoff events is highest in the fall and the spring. “In the summer, the forecasting tool looks out 72 hours into the future, so three days into the future. When the ground is frozen, it looks out ten days into the future, so trying to capture a little bit more of that potential time frame when the risk is still there for manure to be able to run off.”

Topper says the tool uses more than a simple weather forecast.  “It’s also taking into consideration soil temperature, and then it does take into consideration in the winter months the extent of snow cover and snow melt. Using the NRCS web soil survey, the soil data is in there as well.

And, Topper says other states have joined the platform. “Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Indiana have all jumped on board, which is really exciting to see.”

Topper says the free tool began with a state legislative mandate tied to nutrient management guidelines and a partnership with the National Weather Service.  The tool is color-coded and accurate to within four kilometers or almost two and a half miles statewide.

Andrea Topper discusses the online runoff predictor tool with Brownfield’s Larry Lee

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