The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are inviting southern Minnesota farmers to join nearly 150 farmers who have participated since 2006 in a nutrient management evaluation program funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Participating farmers help generate information to assist farmers around the state manage inputs to produce healthy crop yields and a healthy environment.

The Nutrient Management Initiative (NMI) program helps farmers fine-tune nutrient application rates by comparing higher or lower application rates and evaluating the economic results. Participating farmers work with a certified crop advisor and conduct test comparisons on their own farms. When the project is completed, an economic analysis based on the farmer’s actual nutrient costs and yields from replicated strips using a yearly average corn price are provided to the farmer and crop advisor. Participating farmers receive $1,200 as reimbursement for the certified crop advisor’s fees and the time spent on the project.

The project results demonstrate how corn responds to nitrogen rates across southern Minnesota farms, and help farmers comprehend key production variables including soil type, new crop genetic efficiencies and application method and timing.

NMI collected data from 49 sites in 26 counties in 2010. Replicated trial sites demonstrated a yield increase of more than 4 bushels/acre 51% of the time from the higher nitrogen comparison. Accounting for the additional nitrogen costs, there was an economic advantage half of the time. Corn following soybean rotation responded to additional nitrogen application 61% of the time, compared to corn following corn rotation responding only 38% of the time.

Split-applying nitrogen at different timing intervals produced the largest yield and economic advantages. Control strips where little or no nitrogen was applied resulted in 70% of the overall yield as a result of residual nitrogen and soil organic matter contributions.

The nutrient management program is funded through USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, with MDA support through promotion, data collection and compilation and education outreach.

Interested farmers should contact their local USDA-NRCS office or MDA’s Brian Williams at (507) 65-6806 or brian.c.williams@state.mn.us. Signup information and program results are available on the MDA Web site at www.mda.state.mn.us/nmi.