Managing for nitrogen losses in crop production is important, absolutely, but N isn’t the only nutrient at risk of being lost from the plant’s refrigerator. Phosphorus, that other macro-nutrient we know and love, is also subject to losses — and while losses may go relatively unnoticed in the cropping system, our lakes are rivers pay the price of even relatively low levels of P that moves from the soil into the water.
Take heart, dear farmers, as a) agriculture is not the only culprit here and, most importantly, b) farmers have several options at their disposal to play an incredibly positive role in reducing phosphorus levels in waterways. Still, managing phosphorus losses in cropping systems is made especially difficult by our biggest risk factor — the spring melt. Unfortunately, melt water carries dissolved phosphorus off the land and into our water systems. Well, you say, but we can’t stop the spring melt!? It’s true, yes, but there are most certainly ways and means to decrease the amount of phosphorus at risk to spring run-off movement.
In this Agronomy Geeks podcast, Real Agriculture editor Lyndsey Smith is joined by Mitchell Timmerman, soil nutrient specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, to talk about what farmers can and are doing to minimize phosphorus losses, what resources are available and why it’s so important to keep learning. There’s also a good chat about all the trade-offs that farming practices lead to — how there’s no one-size fits all solution — and how tillage plays a surprising role in P management (don’t worry, no-tillers, there’s plenty of love for you too).
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