Ag retailers leading nutrient stewardship

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Ag retailers are taking an active role helping farmers adopt best practices to manage nutrients and improve both farmer profitability and water quality. “Nutrients are key resources required to grow crops,” reports Thomas Green, Ph.D., president of the IPM Institute. “When nutrients are lost from cropland, farmers lose money and water quality can suffer. Ag retailers are in the forefront of developing innovative and effective solutions.”

For example, Iowa ag retailers joined together to form Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance, a nonprofit funded by contributions from fertilizer sales. The Alliance is tackling nitrogen losses from cropland in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds in west-central Iowa.

The Alliance has developed a code of best practices that members commit to follow. “The Code includes both basic practices, like waiting until soil temperatures are low enough to reduce nitrogen losses, and advanced techniques such as installing bioreactors to intercept nitrogen that might otherwise escape through drainage systems," reports Heath Ellison, agriculture and natural resources manager with the Iowa Soybean Association.

The Alliance is also compiling monitoring data into a centralized database to better understand conditions that reduce losses and improve water quality. “More and better data leads to better decisions,” reports Ellison.

On Dec. 12 at the Toledo Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, Ellison and nine other presenters will be on hand to share what they have learned with other ag retailers. Attendance is free. According to Jeremy Zidek, senior research scientist at ZedX and a presenter at the conference, “Ag retailers will learn how cutting edge technologies can be marketed to increase farmers’ bottom lines and improve water quality.” ZedX has provided ag retailers and farmers with IT solutions since 1987.

Other presenters include: Dr. Thomas Bruulsema, Northeast regional director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute, Carrie Vollmer-Sanders, Western Lake Erie Basin Project Office director, The Nature Conservancy, and Dr. David Baker, a former research scientist of the Heidelberg National Center for Water Quality Research.

Certified Crop Advisors have the opportunity to earn five nutrient management CEUs. Space is limited. Register by contacting Jane Petzoldt at 608 232-1410 or, or visit to download a registration form.

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