Reducing Phosphorus Fertilizer Inputs for Field Corn Production
Phosphorus (P) accumulation on farms has led to high soil test P levels and increased P runoff and leaching from agricultural fields in many Northeastern states. The aim of the NY Starter P Project is to reduce P fertilizer use for growing corn on fields that test high or very high in P. In addition, we aim to establish and strengthen research/extension collaboration among producers, extension, universities, agribusiness and agencies on issues of importance for the sustainability of agriculture. We proposed to achieve these goals through the establishment of on-farm trials, field days, extension meetings and documentation and by working with a collaborative network of producers, agribusiness, university faculty and staff, and regulatory agencies.
Our performance targets were: 1) 30 corn growers in 2002 and 2003 will conduct on-farm replicated trials, and they will show increased interest in on-farm experimentation following the termination of the project. Of the producers, 25 will reduce starter P use to <20 lbs P2O5/acre following the termination of the project; 2) 75% of New York corn silage and grain corn growers will be aware that starter P on high P soils and soils that receive manure is rarely needed. 3) 30% of the registered farmer participants in field days and extension meetings will re-evaluate starter P use for corn within the duration of the project and reduce starter P use by 50% or more; and 4) 20 extension field staff will be trained in on-farm experiment management, generate more reliable results with on-farm trials, and establish working relationships with producers that lead to continuation of on-farm experimentation following the termination of this project.
In 2003, 24 on-farm demonstration trials (2 or more replicates) were conducted in 16 different counties and lead by 12 extension educators. In addition, 4 research trials (4 replicates) were conducted. We are processing the samples and expect the results to be summarized in early 2004. Preliminary observations and testimonials by participating producers and those that attended field days show little or no benefit from P applications on high P soils. We increased our outreach efforts through field days, articles in extension bulletins, and presence at major farm shows (i.e. Empire Farm Days) and reached an estimated 150 people through winter crop meetings in early 2003, while 250 people attended field days held at starter P farm sites hosted by the producer that participated in the project or at the experimental research farms. Results of the 2002 trials reached 280 people in 2003 through the Field Crops Dealer Meetings, while an estimated 100 people saw our poster display at the Steuben County Fair. The 2002 growing season results reached over 4000 people through county newsletters while an article in the Northeast Dairy Business in December of 2003 (“P restraint won’t shrink yields”) reached a membership of 16,560 people in the Northeast Region. In February, a “What’s Cropping Up?” article appeared. The article is downloadable from our project website (http://nmsp.css.cornell.edu/ projects/starterp.asp). Although we started our impact assessment, we expect most of our impact activities to take place once the results of the 2003 growing season are summarized. The on-farm research workshop was held on April 1 and 2, 2003. As a result of the workshop, participation in the project by extension educators doubled. We developed a 2-page handout, a postcard summarizing the results to date, and a poster for use in extension events. All are available through our project website as well.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
1) 28 successfully completed field trials in 2003; 2) increased experimental design understanding/skills among extension educators that participated in the On-farm Research Workshop; 3) a “What’s Cropping Up?” extension article summarizing the 2000-2002 results; 4) a postcard summarizing the results to date; 5) a project handout that was distributed at field days and through newsletter; 6) a project poster that was displayed at extension events; 7) increased project awareness.