Farming Forward: Using SWAT maps to inform nitrogen management decisions

Soil tests are one tool for determining fertilizer needs of a particular field, but several other factors impact the overall productivity of any soil zone, regardless of nutrient level.

Factors such as physical make up of the soil, salinity, internal drainage, field position, and organic matter levels, all play a role in determining the high-yield potential and lower yield potential areas of a field.

In this episode of Farming Forward, Justin Dering with Croptimistic Technologies explains how SWAT maps — maps that factor in soil, water, and topography — divide a field in to 10 management zones, enabling farmers to vary input rates, including seed or fertilizer.

By dividing a field by the underlying drivers of yield, such as water holding capacity, Dering says that farmers can make more precise decisions on nitrogen application, for example, in order to minimize over-application in some areas or shorting the crop in others.

Farming Forward is a video series brought to you by Farmers for Climate Solutions’ Farm Resilience Mentorship Program and the Farm Learning Hub. Visit the hub to learn more about events in your area and to access more resources about building soil health.

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