Farming Forward: The economics and science behind the right rate of nitrogen fertilizer

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Are crops really inefficient at taking up nitrogen?

Actually, no — crops take up and store N in grain and also in stalks, stems, leaves, and roots, which can sometimes be overlooked in nitrogen removal calculations, leading some to think that there is more N “lost” than is actually so. But if crops are pretty good at using N if it’s there, how do we know how much to apply?

In this episode of Farming Forward, Kelvin Heppner asks Dr. Mario Tenuta, with the University of Manitoba, about soil nitrogen storage, fertilizer application timing, and soil nitrate release all in an effort to find the most economical and environmental rate of nitrogen.

Understanding how nitrogen changes from its applied to soil-available form is key in understanding how to minimize nitrogen losses from leaching, denitrification, or volatilizing as nitrous oxide, Tenuta explains.

Farming Forward is a video series brought to you by Farmers for Climate Solutions’ Farm Resilience Mentorship Program and the Farm Learning Hub. Visit the hub to learn more about events in your area and to access more resources about building soil health.

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