WERA103: Nutrient Management and Water Quality
Statement of Issues and JustificationPlant nutrients are essential for the profitable and sustainable production of food and fiber. Nutrient management in the Western Region is becoming increasingly important because of rising fertilizer prices and the need to protect both ground and surface water resources. When improperly used, nutrients have been implicated in decreased water quality. There are many specific management options that can be implemented to improve the way nutrients are used and to minimize their potentially adverse environmental impact. Best Management Practices are currently being developed for major crops throughout the West to improve nutrient use. Federal agencies, state Land Grant institutions, and private industry are currently cooperating to identify and reduce the potentially negative impact of poor nutrient management on profitability and the environment. These issues generally are more related to cropping systems and watersheds than state-line boundaries. The need for region-wide cooperation to develop consistent and science-based recommendations is great. Information sharing on a region-wide basis improves accuracy, efficiency, and reduces waste of resources. This project has provided and presently provides an excellent educational forum for scientists, industry representatives, governmental agencies, and consultants to engage in dialogue about nutrient management issues.
Best Management Practices are being developed by scientists for implementation by extension and industry agronomists and consultants. A re-evaluation of current nutrient management practices and the development of improved techniques to estimate specific crop nutrient requirements will provide the foundation to improve soil, water and air quality. Additionally, quantifying the fate of nutrients in unmanaged ecosystems also provides important insight to the reactions occurring in managed agricultural soils. The use of organic nutrient sources, such as manure and compost, also pose challenges to efficient utilization. Accurate soil, water, and plant analytical information is essential for making nutrient management decisions. This analytical information will likely become increasingly important for regulatory compliance to environmental standards. The cooperation and continuing education of analytical labs offering agricultural services is important for providing accurate information to local decision makers. Review of the latest analytical techniques appropriate for the Western Region is needed.
Back to Top