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• T aking a whole farm approach to nutrient management, e.g. accounting for all nutrients available in the soil, manure, etc., allows recycling of nutrients over the entire land base, supplying crops with commercial nutrients only when and where required. Freight (logistics of handling fertilizer products) • Hauling distance, storage needed, and equipment available all must be included in the decision of which products and forms are selected. Use of Stabilizers and Additives • Stabilizers and additives can be used to reduce risk and costs of losses of N. • They may allow reduced application rates. Risk of Timing Changes • Shifting from fall-applied N increases the risk that unfavorable spring weather will delay or prevent spring application. • Shifting to split or multiple applications increase total application costs and labor expenses. Yield Increases • Crop yields are important because they help determine fertilizer recommendations for a given crop. • Yield also helps estimate the nutrients removed from the field. In nutrient management planning, when soil fertility levels are high, application rates are determined by matching rates with nutrient removed by the crop. Higher yields may reflect greater nutrient removal from the soil and thus a higher application rate for the subsequent crop. Alternate Cropping Systems • Alternate cropping systems that include a more diverse crop rotation can result in additional opportunities for 4R practices and can spread risk/benefits over more crops. Alternate tillage systems (e.g. moving from conventional to no-till) can improve soil characteristics and reduce erosion, but requires a transition period. • A change in cropping systems may involve the purchase or lease of different equipment and/ or technology or custom application services. • There may also be additional labour requirements however, the reverse could also be true where there is a labour saving component. Crop Insurance (regulations and premiums) Crop insurance reduces the financial risk of perils. 4R stewardship and other good management practices will help reduce the impact of crop failures or other insurable events. For example: • Severe rain events will result in less nutrient runoff if fertilizer is incorporated below the soil surface. • Yield loss due to moisture stress (drought) will be less severe in soils with higher organic matter and water holding capacity. • Adequate soil fertility and crop management can reduce the impact of winter kill in alfalfa forage crops and winter wheat. • Water management (including tile drainage, grassed waterways, WASCoBs – water and sediment control basins, etc.) can reduce the amount of time that soils are saturated and water ponds on fields which can reduce crop loss and nutrient loss.

PROFICIENCY AREA I - Nutrient Management Planning

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Ontario 4R Nutrient Management Stewardship Guide  
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