May 30, 2021

Research being done at the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms and other related sites around the state is helping researchers determine what practices work best for reducing nutrient and sediment loss. Over the last five years, on-farm research has shown that following the 4R approach can help reduce nutrient and sediment loss:

  • Following the 4R approach.
  • Developing a water management plan.
  • Reducing soil erosion.

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles provide proven best practices for the application of nutrients (commercial or manure) by using the right source of nutrients at the right rate and right time in the right place below the soil surface.

Fertilizer placement toolbar demonstrated during the Ohio AgriBusiness Association 4R Technology Review Day held on Kellogg Farms.


Knowing when to apply nutrients is critical. Research shows the greatest potential for nutrient loss is when precipitation happens shortly after nutrient application. The time of year is also crucial – losses are lower when nutrients are applied right before planting or over the summer compared to those applied in the fall or winter.

How you can achieve Right Time:
Apply manure while the crop is growing

Manure has typically been applied in the fall after harvest or spring before planting. However, new equipment for manure application is changing this practice in order to better optimize uptake and placement.

How it works:

The in-crop application of manure can potentially replace purchased nitrogen, while also placing nutrients where the growing crop can immediately use them. The application of manure to a growing crop can also extend the manure application season, reducing the pressure to apply manure during the stress of harvest.

“Purchasing a strip-till unit and the necessary equipment cost roughly $250,000. But for an operation our size, more effectively placing fertilizer beneath the soil surface in a band where the crop can more readily access it reduced our fertilizer bill by almost one-third, or $100,000 per year.” – Bill Kellogg


Research is beginning to show that placing nutrients on the soil surface and leaving them undisturbed can have a negative effect on downstream water quality. By injecting or tilling nutrients into the soil, the dissolved reactive phosphorus concentration can be greatly reduced.

How you can achieve Right Place:
Subsurface placement

A crop can more efficiently take up nutrients when it is placed under the soil surface and in a band. While this type of equipment can be costly, more efficient fertilizer placement can dramatically reduce input costs – to the point that equipment can be paid off in a few years from the savings.


This article was featured in the May/June 2021 edition of Our Ohio Magazine

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