- Agronomic: corn
- Vegetables: sweet corn
- Animal Production: manure management
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, risk management
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil quality/health
Nitrogen (N) management for Northeast corn is inefficient because early season weather impacts are not appropriately accounted for in the prevailing recommendation systems. Excess N application is costly for farmers and leaching and denitrification losses are highly detrimental to the environment. The new Adapt-N tool provides precise N fertilizer recommendations that account for the effects of seasonal conditions using high-resolution climate data, a dynamic computer model, and field-specific information on crop and soil management. This approach can significantly reduce fertilizer input costs and environmental impacts by better predicting seasonally and spatially variable crop N requirements. Two years of on-farm beta-testing showed significant benefits in farmer profits and reduced N inputs and environmental losses. This project aims to enhance N management while also increasing the adoption of cover crop and soil health management practices in corn production, and specifically 1) to further calibrate and validate the Adapt-N tool for the Northeast region, and incorporate new soil health test and cover cropping inputs, based on on-farm strip trials and other funded projects of multiple collaborators, 2) to educate growers about the benefits of soil health and cover crops in improving N dynamics and long-term sustainability, 3) to educate growers and their advisers about methods for using multiple technologies for more sustainable N management in corn, including the Adapt-N tool, high-clearance equipment for more timely and flexible sidedressing, and establishment of cover crops in standing corn, and 4) to increase broad-scale adoption of Adapt-N through encouraging low-risk implementation. In effect, the investment requested from SARE will be equivalent to spending less than $0.28/lb N averted from the environment in the short term duration of the project, with exponential expansion of Adapt-N use and its benefits beyond the life of the grant. It will additionally result in a near tripling of that investment in terms of farmer profits as a result of this project. By 2015, users will simulate locations representing 80,000 corn acres in Adapt-N, and about 100 growers will implement recommendations on at least 20,000 acres. This will reduce environmental losses through leaching and denitrification by 40% over current farmer management. Participating farmers will realize savings of at least $550,000 and prevent over 800,000 lbs of excess N from polluting the environment.
Performance targets from proposal:
1) broadly beta-test the Adapt-N tool through strip trials in the Northeast region, and
2) improve Adapt-N performance and options by incorporating cover crop and soil health information.
By 2015, users will simulate locations representing 80,000 corn acres in Adapt-N, and will implement recommendations on at least 20,000 acres. Although dependent on seasonal conditions, environmental losses through leaching and denitrification are expected to be reduced by 40%, saving on average 40 lb N/acre over current farmer management. Participating farmers will realize estimated savings of at least $550,000 and prevent over 800,000 lb of excess N from polluting the environment.