New software helps farmers manage nutrients

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University of Missouri Extension has released a new Web-based application to help farmers manage soil nutrient needs on farms.

Nutrient management helps farmers set rates and timing of fertilizer applications, said John Lory, MU Extension nutrient management specialist. Plans are required for some farms in cost-share programs and permitted animal feeding operations.

The free MMPTracker tool is available to farmers anywhere in the U.S. at http://www.mmptracker.org/. Farmers can map their fields and the system automatically calculates field sizes and retrieves field soil type information from agency sources.

The user identifies streams, wells, ponds and property boundaries. State-specific guidelines help generate suggested setbacks, which help protect water quality.

The user can print maps of the farm and export the information to other programs, such as Purdue University's Manure Management Planner. The project is saved to a password-protected account for future editing.

The program is the first of its kind in the United States, Lory said.

Using computers to help with nutrient management decisions used to require multiple spreadsheets, expensive third-party software and many online resources. The new program is easy to use, Lory said. It helps farmers in their use of manure as an inexpensive and environmentally friendly fertilizer.

Lory developed MMPTracker with Kevin Atherton, programmer analyst at the MU Center for Applied Research and Environmental Systems. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and MU Extension provided additional support. Glenn Davis at Missouri NRCS collaborated with Lory and Atherton.

A tutorial for the program will available soon at nmplanner.missouri.edu/software/mmptracker.asp. In the meantime, go to nmplanner.missouri.edu to learn about the program.

Lory and others plan training on the program at MU research farms in April and May:

  • April 25 and May 22, Bradford Research Center, Columbia
  • April 29 and 30, Southwest Research Center, Mount Vernon
  • April 15 and May 29, Forage Systems Research Center, Linneus
  • May 6, Greenley Memorial Research Center, Novelty
  • May 8, Delta Research Center, Portageville

Farmers can ask for classes on other dates. Check www.nmplanner.missouri.edu/training/#computer for updates.


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