June 27, 2017
An Ohio-based agriculture cooperative uses precision tools to help protect critical watershed areas.
As the world balances a shrinking water supply with a burgeoning global population, the agriculture community is rallying to protect – and maximize – this vital resource. With critical waterways adjacent to large tracts of farm land, the agricultural community understands that proper nutrient management is a significant component in water stewardship and optimized production.
One of the leaders in water preservation efforts is Sunrise Cooperative in Fremont, Ohio. With the help of cutting-edge agriculture technology tools, Sunrise staff are safeguarding fragile waterways while increasing water-use efficiency and crop productivity.
Nutrient Management and Water Quality
First, let’s take a step back and look at how crop nutrient management impacts water quality. Nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients that farmers apply to the soil can dramatically improve crop yield, thereby increasing the amount of food produced without increasing the amount of land or water required. This practice makes crop nutrients a major component of feeding our growing world. But farmers have learned that more nitrogen does not always mean more bushels at harvest.
Proper nutrient management requires balancing the amount of nutrients applied with the amount of nutrients the soil can retain. Too much nitrogen or phosphorus in the soil increases the risk of nutrient pollution through agriculture runoff because excess nutrients stick to soil particles and move with the soil.
Efficient nutrient management is a win-win scenario for farmers. Preventing nutrient loss protects water quality by minimizing nutrients escaping into waterways. It also enhances profitability by reducing fertilizer costs and improves soil quality by increasing nutrient retention. Fortunately, a variety of high- and low-tech management practices can help keep nutrients where intended.