Bouncing between frozen and thawed

Over the years, the University of Wisconsin Division of Extension Discovery Farms Program has shared lessons learned from nutrient applications on frozen soil. The main takeaway is that applying nutrients, such as manure, to frozen ground shortly before runoff occurs leads to greater losses.

Phosphorus and water quality in Wisconsin agriculture

Phosphorus is a vital macronutrient for crop production, a major contributor to aquatic degradation, and a finite global resource and thus is important agronomically, environmentally, and economically. Phosphorus loss to water resources happens in every agricultural production system. Fortunately, there are management options that decrease the risk and amount of phosphorus loss to water resources without sacrificing farm profitability.

On-farm monitoring informs ag land management to keep phosphorus in place

As the quantity and quality of on-farm data increase over time, the understanding of how agriculture impacts water quality has evolved. As research and monitoring technology has progressed, the scientific community is looking at more than runoff and soil loss, but rather, different forms of phosphorus (P). In the past, total P was discussed, but now is broken down into particulate P and dissolved P.

Grassed waterways are fundamental in reducing erosion and impacting water quality

Grassed waterways play a critical role on the landscape by stabilizing areas of concentrated water flow. If grassed waterways are installed properly and have an adequate grass cover, they can significantly reduce sediment and nutrient losses. The roots of the growing grass help to keep sediment and nutrients in place. The grassed waterway helps to catch soil particles carried in runoff as it concentrates and leaves the field.

 Addressing Phosphorus water quality issues: Where we’ve been, where we’re going

According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, from 2007 to 2017, the amount of commercial phosphorus (P) fertilizer applied, and manure P generated, continued to increase in many states including Wisconsin; at the same time, farm acreage is shrinking. Over application of P contributes to both economic inefficiencies and environmental concerns, including harmful algal blooms and eutrophication of waterbodies.

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