The recent focus on nutrient management in farming has resulted in a plethora of fertilizer management tools claiming to help farmers get the best use of their nitrogen fertilizer dollars.
But with all the tools vying for attention, it is hard to know which ones really work.
At a media event held in New Orleans ahead of the official start of Commodity Classic, the Environmental Defense Fund announced the launch of a new tool it has developed that reviews the performance of commercially available nutrient management tools.
EDF says the program, called NutrientStar, is the first review program to provide farmers, their advisors, and everyone in the supply chain with reliable data on the performance of fertilizer management tools.
Fertilizer management products reviewed through NutrientStar include nitrogen stabilizers such as Dow AgroSciences' Instinct II and N Servce; biologics such Verdesian's NutriSphere N; controlled-release fertilizers such as Agrium's ESN; decision support tools, such as Pioneer's Encirca and Climate Corp's Fieldview; and optical sensor technologies such as OptRx and Greenseeker.
Click here for a full list of products.
Ratings are done by an independent review panel composed of soil and agronomy scientists. They conduct assessments of all the tools on the market, looking at on-farm field trials, to determine how a tool works on the ground, in different regions, and on different soil types.
EDF says the panel reviews all tools the same way, based on established criteria and their ability to improve nutrient use efficiency as shown in production-scale field trials, defined as unit of yield over unit of applied nutrient. NutrientStar review will also show yield impacts from use of a tool and summarize key characteristics such as cost/benefit, ease of use, and required data inputs.
So what’s in it for EDF? Sustainably of the environment through reduced fertilizer runoff, improved air and water quality and reduced risk of supply chain disruptions.
According to EDF, up to 50% of nutrients applied in farming are not absorbed by crops, leading to air and water pollution and wasted money for farmers who spend approximately half of their input costs on fertilizer.
Funding for the program comes from private foundations.
The program is available now at no cost to the grower. Visit www.nutrientstar.org for a full list of tools under review.