Monday, September 14, 2009

Nitrogen soil test is technology breakthrough for agriculture, environment

Seed Daily: A new soil test for nitrogen fertilization of rice may not sound like blockbuster technology, but it is, said Chuck Wilson, extension rice agronomist with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. The new technology is the first and only site-specific test of mineralizable soil nitrogen as a basis for nitrogen fertilizer recommendations in any crop. It will help farmers apply just the amount of nitrogen fertilizer needed to maximize yields with no excess to run off in surface water, Wilson said.

The new test, called "N-ST*R" (Nitrogen Soil Test for Rice), has been previewed at summer field days by Division of Agriculture soil scientist Richard Norman and his doctoral student, Trenton Roberts. If validation studies in 2009 work as expected, verification studies will be implemented in fields of cooperating farmers in 2010, Wilson said.

"I'm extremely excited about it," said Marvin Hare Jr., a Jackson County farmer and a member of the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board, which is funding the research along with the USA Rice Federation. "It has the potential to be one of the most important research developments (for rice farmers) in a long time," Hare said. "It will give us a tool to more accurately manage our nitrogen fertility."

Hare said following the new test recommendations could reduce or eliminate nitrogen in surface water run-off from fields.…"You want to squeeze all the yield you can out of your nitrogen investment without leaving any on the table," Gray said. "We've probably been putting too much on."

Terraced rice paddies in Vietnam, shot by AJ Oswald, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License.