Before the coronavirus and election news took over headlines, there was one constant headline: the state of Ohio’s water quality. That’s why the Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District is working to equip farmers with the technology and tools they need to reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality.
Today’s agricultural industry is dramatically different than it was 75 years ago when Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District was founded, and farmers are facing a new set of challenges when it comes to protecting our state’s water quality. The soil and water district is offering new, high-tech computer modeling tools to help Ashland County farmers face those challenges and make the right choices when it comes to nutrient management.
“Through crop modeling applications, producers can determine their return on investment, identify correct nutrient application timing and rates, and assess the risk of losing those nutrients,” Ashland SWCD technician Erica White says. “All of that saves the producers money on fertilizer costs, which ties into improving water quality. The end result is less nutrient runoff when you take a deeper look at timing and rates of applications.”
The Adapt-N model uses more than 30 years of research from Cornell University on how nitrogen moves spatially through different soil types over time. It factors in the source of the nitrogen — whether that be from a cover crop, manure application or commercial fertilizer — and after taking into account management practices and weather data, it can identify how much nitrogen is actually available to the growing crop, giving producers the information they need to make the best nutrient management decisions possible.
“Adapt-N helps farmers assess how much nitrogen they have available, so that they can be more efficient with their in-season nitrogen applications, but also more profitable by increasing the efficiency of their nitrogen dollars,” says Jane Houin, Ashland SWCD program administrator.
Similarly, Winfield United’s R7 Field Forecasting Tool allows producers to input detailed management data and run different scenarios to determine the best timing, rate and return on investment for nutrient application.
This tool uses soil tests, weather, potential yield, growing degree days and tissue tests, etc., to determine how different management decisions and timing are predicted to affect both yield and return on investment.
“Field Forecasting Tool is a predictive model that allows producers to see their investment of nutrient applications and when to apply those applications,” White says. “When using these crop modeling tools, producers are able to see how the four Rs, right rate, right time, right source and right place, can benefit the bottom dollar for farmers, all while managing nutrients to reduce the risk of nutrient runoff.”
Applications for the crop modeling program and additional details are available at ashlandswcd.com/computer-modeling and will be accepted through Feb. 1. There is a 100-acre maximum on approved acres per producers.
Adapt-N and Field Forecasting Tool are available to farmers in the Jerome Fork watershed through a partnership with ag retailers and as a continuation of an Ohio Farm Bureau Water Quality grant that was used to initiate the program in 2020.
In addition to Adapt-N and Field Forecasting Tool, Ashland SWCD has also partnered with Ohio State University to bring Ashland County producers access to On-Field Ohio! — a tool to estimate erosion and phosphorus runoff risk on each individual field.
This program allows producers to see the effect management practices can have on their phosphorus runoff risk by comparing how changes in management practices such as tillage equipment, fertilizer placement, and cover crops affect erosion and phosphorus loss. On-Field Ohio is available to all Ashland County producers at no cost.
For questions regarding crop modeling or Ashland Soil and Water Conservation District, call White at 419-281-7645.