Field Crops & Nutrient Management
Nutrient management is defined by the USDA-NRCS as "managing the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of plant nutrients and soil amendments to ensure adequate soil fertility for plant production and to minimize the potential for environmental degradation, particularly water quality impairment.” The goal of the nutrient management research program at Miner Institute is to evaluate contemporary agronomic best management practices that optimize crop yield/quality and minimize nutrient losses to the environment. Special emphasis is placed on phosphorus management due to its key role in crop nutrition and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin.
Miner Institute conducts research to improve yields and the quality of feeds through:
- Hybrid selection
- Modified storage techniques
- Timing of harvest
Miner Institute uses small plots and storage systems to conduct replicated research whose findings can then be applied on a large scale. In addition, animal feeding trials are often conducted to determine the effect of forage quality on the performance of our dairy cattle. By conducting trials that truly investigate the crop/animal interaction, the economic value of the forage quality can be determined and shared with dairy producers. Maximizing yield and quality of feeds produced on the farm improves farm profitability by reducing the need to purchase feeds required to balance healthy diets for cows.
Soil Fertility Management
Dairy farms recycle organic nutrients produced by cows to reduce purchased fertilizer needed for crop growth. Studies are being conducted to evaluate techniques for incorporating and retaining these valuable nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, in soils to maximize their availability for crops produced on the farm.
Miner Institute in collaboration with SUNY Plattsburgh are conducting research evaluating manure application and management of tile drainage systems to optimize nutrient integration and retention in soils. In addition, Miner Institute has the ability to conduct detailed monitoring of our silage effluent system. Analyses for these studies are conducted in the environmental laboratory at Miner Center. Improvement in nutrient management practices should result in maximizing crop yields, improving forage quality and minimizing nutrients exported from the farm.
Agriculture is coming under governmental and public scrutiny to curtail management practices that are perceived to adversely impact the environment. Miner Institute is conducting controlled research that will help dairy producers establish feasible yet effective practices which will minimize their environmental impact and protect our natural resources in the Champlain Valley.