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AgCenter forms nutrient task force

News Release Distributed 06/30/14

WINNSBORO, La. – Crop varieties change frequently, which sometimes causes farmers to adjust how they apply fertilizers. To ensure its recommendations are up to date, the LSU AgCenter has formed a task force to study the effectiveness of fertilizers on major row crops and forages grown in Louisiana.

"We're making sure the rates we recommend for each crop are up-to-date and reflect accurate data from current research trials," said AgCenter soil specialist Beatrix Haggard. "Our recommendations also need to be viable for yields as they increase, so we'll also look at how sustainable these rates will be going into the future."

The group is made up of 10 members, including AgCenter agronomists and specialists for different crops.

Haggard said the task force began as a way to find out how much nitrogen is being used on different crops statewide. While nitrogen is widely used, many different fertilizers are available on the market, so the team expanded its focus.

"We're not only evaluating traditional fertilizer sources, but also considering the use of enhanced-efficiency nitrogen products, manure amendments and specialty products," Haggard said.

Varieties are constantly being updated, and maximum yields are a trend among several recent varieties. Those varieties tend to demand more fertilizer, Haggard said, so the task force is also examining rates for hybrid technologies.

Studying these issues is important because water quality is a growing concern in the agriculture community, Haggard said. Fertilizers, especially those that are nitrogen- and phosphorous-based, can contribute to eutrophication of waterways, in which an overabundance of nutrients causes oxygen depletion.

Haggard said rate recommendations should strive to minimize such problems, and farmers should apply fertilizers at the right time and place to avoid excessive losses.

The task force hopes to produce a booklet listing nutrient deficiencies in various crops along with appropriate fertilizer rates.

Olivia McClure
Last Updated: 6/30/2014 10:35:35 AM

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