February 11, 2008
Contact: Joe Lawrence, 315-376-5270, or your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office
Note: Meetings are set for West Chazy, Malone, Canton, Lowville & Watertown

Nitrogen: How much do you need, how much can you save?
Find out at March Fertilizer Meetings in NNY

Corn is grown on more than 120,000 acres across Northern New York. But just how much fertilization does corn need to grow well? Is it true that for some fields using less nitrogen (N) can save farmers money and still produce a good crop? How does a farmer tell which fields need extra N and which do not?

The answers to these questions and others may save farmers money, time and labor. Dr. Quirine M. Ketterings of Cornell University, Everett Thomas of the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators from NNY will provide the latest nutrient management research results at Making the Most of Your Fertilizer Dollar meetings scheduled across Northern New York for the week of March 17-21.

With funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program and the New York Farm Viability Institute, Ketterings, her Cornell research team and Cornell Cooperative Extension field crop educators in NNY have conducted several projects that are successfully quantifying and predicting the nitrogen (N) needs for growing corn, and, in turn, saving farmers money and reducing environmental impact.

�We are determining under what situations extra nitrogen would be good to add to a field and when a farmer can save money by reducing fertilizer applications without impacting yield and quality,� says Ketterings, an associate professor of crop and soil sciences. �This is the best way to minimize the potential negative environmental and economic impacts of excess N fertilizer use.�

Joe Lawrence, a former graduate student of Ketterings in the Nutrient Management Spear Program at Cornell, is now field crops educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Lewis County. Lawrence says, �Now more than ever we need to focus on efficient use of nutrients on the farm. For example, we need to recognize that sod crops are an excellent source of nitrogen for the subsequent corn crop and that our soils have a great ability to supply nitrogen for growing.�

As a student, Lawrence worked on a project evaluating the use of additional nitrogen on first-year corn grown after sod. He says, �None of the 16 first-year corn trials responded to additional nitrogen after the starter fertilizer. The forage grass and/or legume gave enough nitrogen back to the soil to feed the following year�s corn crop and forage quality was not negatively impacted.�

After participating in the on-farm N evaluation trial in 2005, farmer Mike
Kiechle of Garden of Eden Farm in Philadelphia, N.Y. cut his use of nitrogen on first-year corn. He says, �This on-farm research trial showed I was wasting money. I cut back my nitrogen applications and that has saved me about $10-$12 per acre.�

How to use soil nitrogen tests to help identify N levels in farm fields is on the
agenda for the March meetings. Other topics include soil pH management, tillage options for conserving manure nitrogen in soils, understanding fertilizer choices, how to use test strips to try different crop treatments, how to determine starter and broadcast fertilizer needs, when nitrogen should be applied in a crop rotation.

Making the Most of Your Fertilizer Dollar meetings will be held March 17 in West Chazy, March 18 in Malone, March 19 in Canton, March 20 in Lowville, and March 21 in Watertown. Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension for details. CCA credits may be possible.

To learn more about nutrient management research conducted in Northern New York and for fact sheets, visit the website at www.nnyagdev.org. The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program prioritizes and funds research and outreach that provides practical knowledge and tools to improve the productivity and profitability of farms in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. # # #