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Reducing runoff to save farmers money and protect water quality

June 17, 2022  By Kimbra Cutlip, University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources

How do you keep fertilizer and manure in farm fields in a rainstorm? You start by knowing how nutrients flow through the environment. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are washed through a landscape during rains, which is both expensive to farmers who need the nutrients to grow crops, and potentially harmful to downstream waterways. So, farmers employ a range of tactics to keep nutrients in the soil where crop roots can use them.

But in order to know what works, they need to know when and where the nutrients wash off their fields. Measuring nutrients downstream of farms is one way to understand what flows off the land, but not all nitrogen and phosphorus are the same. Some come from fertilizers farmers apply, but some come from natural processes in the land, and some even come from wooded regions or development upstream from farms. | READ MORE

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