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Nitrogen Smart: Interactive online course can help farmers increase profitability, improve water quality

Nitrogen Smart online course fertilizer management

University of Minnesota Extension’s popular Nitrogen Smart program is now available as an interactive online course, featuring short videos and quick quizzes to test your knowledge.

Take the Nitrogen Smart online course now

Nitrogen Smart is better known for its in-person meetings around the state each winter. The free online course takes about three hours to complete but you can easily pause the session and complete it at another time.

This educational program aims to help farmers improve their bottom line while also helping Minnesota meet environmental objectives on water quality. Participants will develop a deeper understanding of nitrogen and how it behaves in the environment. The online course will give you the tools you need to calculate an efficient, profitable N rate for your farm and tailor management practices to your region, soil type, and other conditions.

Learn about:

  • The nitrogen cycle
  • Nitrogen fertilizer sources 
  • Nitrogen Best Management Practices (BMPs) 
  • Fertilizer N rate recommendations and the MRTN guidelines 
  • Region- and crop-specific recommendations 
  • Emerging nutrient management technologies 
A survey of past Nitrogen Smart participants found that over 75% changed at least one practice as a result of attending the meeting. Our survey data and estimates show a value of at least $3,200 for each attendee when calculating acreage, rate reduction and potential increased yield in timing of application.

One of the messages that is stressed is that while rate recommendations and application BMPs are applicable under a wide range of situations, they are just a starting place from which variation may be necessary depending on soil type, weather conditions, and other factors. The key to making appropriate adjustments to maximize profitability while minimizing loss to the environment is understanding the nitrogen cycle and where and when adjustments to fertilizer applications are warranted.

Thanks to the generous support of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Nitrogen Smart is available at no cost.

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Support for Minnesota Crop News nutrient management blog posts is provided in part by the Agricultural Fertilizer Research & Education Council (AFREC).
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