Nitrogen credits in groundwater hard to calculate

An ag educator says farmers could use a way to measure nitrogen credits from groundwater. 

Retired Mid-State Technical College instructor Mike Sabel tells Brownfield the Wisconsin Nutrient Management Planning System called SNAP+ has no way to accurately account for any possible nitrogen available in irrigation water. “One of the concerns is that if we test the water today, and it ends up having ten parts per unit of nitrogen, what is it going to be when we go and irrigate maybe a month from now or two months from now?”

Sabel says farmers could take nitrogen credits from the applied water if they could constantly monitor the groundwater source because those nitrogen levels can fluctuate. “If it ranges between an 8 and 12, no, there’s no problem, but yet, if it ends up that at one time it’s only a 4 and aother time it’s a 20, we end up with some pretty big differences there.”

Sabel says nitrogen use efficiency is important from both an environmental and profitability perspective, and knowing what’s in the soil and water reduces the need for applied nitrogen. 

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