Commit to following Best Management Practices when applying fertilizers this season. Best Management Practices (BMPs) are specific practices that are implemented to decrease the amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, animal wastes and other pollutants from entering water sources and to conserve water supply. Whether you are growing vegetables, row crops, pastures, lawns or even wildlife food plots, you can follow BMPs!
Why are BMPs important? Nitrogen (N) can leave the soil by volatilization, soil erosion, runoff, leaching, and crop removal. Nitrogen fertilizer losses should be minimized for environmental and economic reasons. The greatest N loss globally, is due to leaching, erosion, and runoff. Phosphorus too can leave soils. Usually this is through runoff, erosion, and crop removal but minor leaching can occur. Nitrogen and Phosphorus that leach or run off into waterways can disrupt nutrient cycles and thus impair waterways.
BMP #1 – Soil Test! If you don’t test, it’s just a guess! Why throw away fertilizer? That’s not good for your wallet or the environment. Soil test results give you the pH and the current level of nutrients in the soil as well as recommended fertilizer rates to optimize crop growth. You must first adjust your soil pH. Without the optimal soil pH, essential nutrients will not be available to the plant. UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Lab can perform your soil test for just $7. Contact the Okaloosa County Extension Office for more information.
BMP #2 – Right Time! Apply fertilizer when the crop is actively growing. Do not apply before a heavy rain event. This will cause nutrients to leach down past the root zone of the plant. Also, split applications of Nitrogen and Potassium are recommended for optimal growth and less risk of polluting the environment.
These are just two simple BMPs to adopt that will make a huge impact on our environment as well as saving you some money. The goal is to use just the right amount of fertilizer to supply what the crop needs when it needs it. Good luck in your growing endeavors in 2018.