The N-Watch program was developed by GROWMARK director of nutrient management and environmental stewardship Dr. Howard Brown as a tool to estimate the concentration of plant-available N throughout the year. The program started with 45 sites in Illinois and continues to grow. “Currently we are looking at over 900 sites from Nebraska to southern Ontario,” said Brown. “The purpose is really to help farmers understand the nitrogen cycle better.”
Farmers can see how that information can be helpful through a new N-Watch affiliated program with the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (C-BMP) called Sentinel Sites that provides abbreviated and anonymous local farmer N-WATCH Reports to learn more about the dynamics of N in the soil profile.
Brown says every year is a new year when it comes to nutrient management on the farm and this year the amount of available nitrogen is lower in many areas as a result of consecutive record crops. “Last year’s crop did a great job from the standpoint of harvest yield for most farmers, at the same time it did a great job harvesting nutrients,” said Brown. His advice to farmers is to manage environmental risk like they manage economic risk, and spread nitrogen out over time.
Learn more in this interview with Dr. Brown. Interview with Howard Brown, GROWMARK