Nitrogen Smart is an educational program for producers that offers both fundamental and advanced topics in nitrogen (N) management. The Advanced Nitrogen Smart courses are available to returning participants or to new participants that complete the Fundamentals course.
Nitrogen Smart certification is valid for three years.
Nitrogen Smart: Fundamentals
Nitrogen Smart focuses on the fundamentals of nitrogen management so producers can maximize economic return on N investments while minimizing losses. This high-quality, research-based education course includes the following topics:
Sources of nitrogen (N) for crops
How nitrogen is lost from soil and how you can reduce losses
How to manage nitrogen in drainage systems
What the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan mean for Minnesota producers
Practices to refine nitrogen management, including split applications, alternative N fertilizers, soil and tissue testing and N models
Advanced Nitrogen Smart
The Advanced Nitrogen Smart courses are available to returning participants or to new participants that complete the Fundamentals course. You may complete any or all Advanced courses in any order.
A deep dive into the 4Rs
The 4Rs were developed in collaboration between university researchers and the fertilizer industry during the late 1980s. The 4Rs promote a nutrient management approach that balances crop productivity with environmental preservation:
- Right rate – Nitrogen rates have the potential to make the largest impact on both crop production and the environment. The key to optimizing rates is to follow university N guidelines, use soil nitrate-N tests when appropriate, and scout for deficiencies.
- Right source – Once in a plant-available form, the plant doesn't distinguish one N source from another. However, there are differences in how N fertilizers interact with the environment, which can affect both availability and loss.
- Right time – The nutrient supply should be synchronized with crop demand and uptake. Several factors influence N availability - including fertilizer source, the use of stabilizers or inhibitors, and field conditions - and together they help determine when it's most appropriate for that particular N source to be applied.
- Right place - Nutrients should be placed where the crop can use them. Consequently, the application method is important for optimum fertilizer efficiency.
Livestock manures have been used as a crop fertilizer source for thousands of years. It continues to be a valuable source of crop nutrients, even with the advent of synthetic fertilizers. Because its nutrient content and availability can vary widely, it's important to develop a management plan that will optimize crop productivity while protecting water quality.
Benefits and challenges of using manure in crop production
What determines nutrient content in manure
How manure storage and handling affect nutrient availability
Importance of manure sampling and testing
How application methods and timing affect nitrogen loss
Practices to optimize manure use and minimize nitrogen losses
Please note: These courses are self-paced. You may register at any point and complete the coursework when it is convenient for you.
Other Advanced Nitrogen Management topics
Other Advanced Nitrogen Smart courses are under development and include “Adapting N management for a changing climate.”