Cover crops, nitrogen and waste focus of 2014 Nutrient Management Conference in Twin Falls

Published online: Feb 17, 2014
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho—University of Idaho Extension researchers will attempt to cover the spectrum of information and issues related to managing agricultural waste, nutrients for crops, dairies and water quality during a conference in Twin Falls on Thursday, March 6.

Offering the latest related news, research, education and activities in Idaho, the Idaho Nutrient Management Conference will draw researchers, state and federal regulatory agency representatives and others.

Cover crops will be one of the emphasis areas this year, said Amber Moore, a conference organizer and soil scientist at the UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ Twin Falls Research and Extension Center.

Cover crops ranging from grains, legumes, even oilseed radishes, are attracting increasing attention from growers, Moore said. They can help to provide nitrogen and organic matter to soils to increase fertility and physical properties like water retention.

Dairy manure is often applied to southern Idaho fields both to dispose of waste and as a valuable fertilizer. Too much in the soil can carry nitrogen to groundwater and threaten water quality.

Cover crops can retain nitrogen and convert it essentially to slow-release fertilizer. Growers are also exploring how planting grains or other cover crops can lessen wind-caused soil erosion by protecting the soil surface. UI Extension researchers Christi Falen and Lauren Hunter will present their findings.

Howard Neibling, UI Extension Irrigation specialist, will report on ways dairies can manage wastewater lagoons and slurry applications on fields during the winter when crops are not growing.

Dave Tarkalson, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service scientist, and Steve Hines, UI Extension educator/crops in Jerome County, will report on improving nitrogen fertilizer recommendations for corn crops.

Other topics will include studies of manure applications on farm fields, micronutrients in cattle feed reaching fields, effects of soil acidification on phosphorous availability and field tests for active carbon as a soil quality indicator.

The conference will be held at Stone House & Company at 330 4th Ave South in Twin Falls. More information is available by contacting Moore at amberm@uidaho.edu or Mario E. de Haro-Marti in the UI Extension Gooding County Office at mdeharo@uidaho.edu.