Webinar discusses drought and crop nutrients
With the aim of helping farm producers manage nutrients and protect water quality, the Agricultural Nutrient Policy Council (ANPC) sponsored a drought and nutrients webinar for 800 crop advisors, farmers and others this past Wednesday. The webinar was developed and hosted by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). Webinar participants heard from experts about successful strategies and methods to employ this fall and next spring to manage nutrients successfully for crop production and water quality. A podcast of the webinar featuring presentations from top nutrient management science experts and practitioners is available free of charge until Oct. 12, 2012, on the ASA website.
Helping farmers keep nutrients in the soil and crops and otherwise preventing nutrient losses from farm fields can add value for farmers while helping to protect water quality. The ANPC asked the ASA to conduct the webinar because the 2012 drought creates especially challenging conditions for farmers as they make nutrient management decisions this year and next.
The drought of 2012 has been devastating for many in agriculture. Farmers without crops to sell and livestock and poultry producers having to cull their herds know this first hand. Consumers will soon feel the effects in the grocery store through higher prices for many months to come. But there are many other effects, and one of these is how the abnormally dry conditions have made the already complex job of managing nutrients even more complex and difficult this fall and next year.
“The purpose of this webinar,” said Don Parrish of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Chair of the ANPC, “was to get good science and practical advice into the hands of crop advisors and farmers quickly since many of them are already making fertilization decisions for next year. Depending on the field, crop and local weather there can be a lot of nutrients left over in the crop residue or soil that didn’t get harvested in crops this year,” Parrish added. “We want to help farmers use as many of those nutrients as possible for next year, saving them money and reducing the chance that nutrients will move into our waterways.”
This year’s drought highlights the effect of weather as the core challenge that farmers always face in trying to properly apply agricultural science to fertilizing crops. Farmers and ranchers study and know their land intimately. They know what their crops need. They know how to find and apply the right amount of nutrients, the right place to put them, the right time and in the right form. But every year, whether there is too little rain or too much rain, farmers and ranchers must ensure that enough nutrients are present in the soil to optimize food production. The degree to which the weather cooperates is completely beyond their control, and if it rains at the wrong time, or too much, or not at all, nutrients can be lost and crops suffer.