Skip to main content

Nitrogen Smart’s online course adds advanced sessions on manure management, the 4Rs

manure broadcaster
University of Minnesota Extension’s popular Nitrogen Smart program is available as an interactive online course, featuring short videos and quick quizzes to test your knowledge. Now, you can take two advanced courses: one on manure management and the other a deep dive into the 4Rs.

The objective of Nitrogen Smart is to help growers understand how nitrogen behaves in the environment for the purpose of customizing management to fit your soil and weather conditions. The most efficient nitrogen management is also the most profitable, and participants will learn how to adjust rates and application practices to achieve optimal efficiency.

The online courses are self-paced. You may register at any point and complete the coursework when it is convenient for you. Thanks to the generous support of the Minnesota Corn Growers, these courses are available to participants at no charge.

Manure management

Livestock manures have been used as a crop fertilizer source for thousands of years and continues to be a valuable source of crop nutrients, even with the advent of synthetic fertilizers. Because its nutrient content and availability can vary widely, it's important to develop a management plan that will optimize crop productivity while protecting water quality.

In this advanced course, Extension manure management specialist Melissa Wilson and Extension educator Brad Carlson discuss the specifics of manure as a fertilizer source and how to best manage it.

Topics include:

  • Benefits and challenges of using manure in crop production
  • What determines nutrient content in manure
  • How manure storage and handling affect nutrient availability
  • Importance of manure sampling and testing
  • How application methods and timing affect nitrogen loss
  • Practices to optimize manure use and minimize nitrogen losses

Register here

A deep dive into the 4Rs

In this course, Extension nutrient management specialist Dan Kaiser and Extension educator Brad Carlson go into detail on how the 4Rs affect each other and how to make adjustments based on the practices you use.

The 4Rs were developed in collaboration between university researchers and the fertilizer industry during the late 1980s. The 4Rs promote a nutrient management approach that balances crop productivity with environmental preservation:
  • Right rate: Nitrogen rates have the potential to make the largest impact on both crop production and the environment. The key to optimizing rates is to understand plant needs and what is provided naturally by the soil.
  • Right source: Once in a plant-available form, the plant doesn't distinguish one N source from another. However, there are differences in how N fertilizers interact with the environment, which can affect both availability and loss.
  • Right time: The nutrient supply should be applied at a time which minimizes loss. Several factors influence N availability - including fertilizer source, the use of stabilizers or inhibitors, and field conditions - and together they help determine when it's most appropriate for that particular N source to be applied.
  • Right place: Placement is often determined by the source and timing, however there are several considerations that need to be made to ensure the fertilizer is plant available when applied.

Register here

Learn more about Nitrogen Smart at


For the latest nutrient management information, subscribe to the Nutrient Management Podcast wherever you listen and never miss an episode! And don't forget to subscribe to the Minnesota Crop News daily or weekly email newsletter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, like UMN Extension Nutrient Management on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and visit our website.

Print Friendly and PDF