02 Feb 2017

Multiple Ways to Minimize Nitrogen Loss from Subsurface Drained Fields

University of Illinois Extension

Multiple Ways to Minimize Nitrogen Loss from Subsurface Drained Fields

One of the major pathways for loss of nitrogen (N) from farm fields in the upper Midwest in the U.S. is through subsurface drainage systems (i.e. tile drains). The starting place for reducing N losses via drainage systems, and all other loss pathways, is first to rely on 4R N management practices that are site-specific, and which may vary for different crops, soils, and environmental conditions. The goal of all farmers, crop advisers, and landowners should be to get as much of the applied N into the crop as economically possible; while also reducing the risks of residual nitrate-N buildup in the soil profile, and minimizing N losses to the environment.

There are a number of complementary conservation practices that can help reduce losses of N via field drainage. Dr. Laura Christianson in the Crop Sciences Department at the University of Illinois, partnered with other biological and agricultural engineers in 2016 in developing an informative fact sheet, with ten (10) examples of practices that can be used to assist in minimizing N losses from fields via leaching and drainage. That fact sheet is:
      Christianson, L.E., J. Frankenberger, C. Hay, M.J. Helmers, and G. Sands, 2016.
      Ten Ways to Reduce Nitrogen Loads from Drained Cropland in the Midwest.
      Pub. C1400, University of Illinois Extension.

Copies may be ordered from the University of Illinois by visiting: http://pubsplus.illinois.edu/C1400.html.

Copies of the article are also posted online at: http://draindrop.cropsci.illinois.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Ten-Ways-to-Reduce-Nitrate-Loads_IL-Extension-_2016.pdf

Other drainage water management information is also available at the North Central Region Water Network website: http://northcentralwater.org/ten-ways-to-reduce-nitrate-loss-from-drained-lands-a-comprehensive-multimedia-outreach-package/

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