New MU website helps farmers track rainfall and nitrogen loss

Jun 3, 2013

Credit Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

A University of Missouri plant scientist has launched a website that allows crop producers to track rainfall and the risk of nitrogen loss during the spring seasons. 

With the spring season now in full swing, state specialist, John Lory of the Plant Science Division, is still trying to help farmers understand the importance of knowing when to apply fertilizers.

“There is no question that the significant rainfall has increased potential for nitrogen loss,” Lory said. “We fully expect farmers who may have put nitrogen down in the fall to have a high potential of losing some of that nitrogen through high-levels of moisture throughout the state.”

According to Lory, the website, which launched in mid-May, was designed to educate farmers in hopes that they would understand when there is a risk of loss of nitrogen and when there is not a risk of loss of nitrogen.

“We’re hoping that farmers are learning more about how nitrogen management can be improved on their fields,” Lory said. “This nitrogen watch tool is just another tool that helps farmers better understand exactly what is happening in their fields.”

“Farmers will generally keep tabs on their crops,” ​says agricultural and business specialist Ken Bolte, from Franklin County. “We have seen some signs that there may be a little bit of nitrogen loss in the wheat that was planted; as far as corn is concerned, we haven’t gotten there yet.”

Lory said  the focus on improving nitrogen management will continue to be a topic for discussion and that the university is going to continue to work on tools to improve nitrogen watch.

Lory advises farmers to look at their own fields and to understand their own conditions to see if their management practices and their soil conditions could actually lead to a loss.