Nitrogen Use Efficiency Project Participant Information

Project summary

Since 2015, the Discovery Farms® Program has collaborated with Wisconsin farmers to measure Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) on fields across the state. NUE is an easy-to-use assessment tool for evaluating current nitrogen (N) management. These calculations offer insight into how N management can be altered to achieve economically optimum yields while reducing nutrient losses to the environment. 

How do I participate?

Participation in the project is a relatively simple process. You have two options. There is a standard and a more intensive NUE assessment. Discovery Farms collects data on management, cropping system, yields and any lab analysis results which are submitted at the end of each growing season.

Standard Assessment: The standard assessment is a good first step to determine if a field’s NUE is higher or lower than WI specific benchmarks. All we need to perform a standard assessment is the yield and N applied on a given field. There is minimal pre-season work required and multiple fields can be easily monitored. There are limitations as this assessment does not account for the N supplied by the soil, so it will not indicate the true economic value and yield gain attributed to the N applied.

Intensive Assessment: The intensive assessment uses a zero-N test strip to measure how much the field yields without any inputs. These test strips are valuable as a soil health indicator and can determine the N supplied by the soil and the efficiency of the applied N. This assessment gives the true economic efficiency of N applied and the N at risk of being lost to the environment. The intensive assessment requires more time and effort to set up the test strips at the beginning of the season, to avoid N application and retrieve reliable yield data from the specific test strip area.

Required Data: Monitoring NUE has a few requirements with more options to add on other components. At a minimum, data on field management including fertilizer inputs, yields and routine soil sample analysis is needed. Other data that can be collected includes grain or silage biomass N content, cover crop assessment and manure analysis results. This data will be kept confidential with farm names taken out of any published analysis. 

What do I receive?

Once all necessary data is submitted to Discovery Farms at the end of the growing season, we will perform an analysis and develop a customized report for your farm. This report will compare your numbers to Wisconsin NUE established benchmarks. Data will be presented back to you with an opportunity for discussion and questions about the analysis. Your data will also be included in the Discovery Farms NUE database as we continue to update statewide benchmarks. 

Funding available

Discovery Farms offers funding for participants who install zero-N test strips to cover analysis costs for soil and grain/biomass, supplies to mark off plot areas and a stipend to offset any yield loss due to the zero-N test strip.

Contact Ryan Heiderman, for more information