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10 ways to reduce nitrogen loads from drainage — No. 6 will shock you!

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If the clickbait title drew you in, No. 6 may not shock you, but a new regional Extension publication, titled “Ten Ways to Reduce Nitrogen Loads from Drained Cropland in the Midwest”, has been released to educate farmers and others on practices for reducing nitrate losses from subsurface drainage.

Reducing nitrate losses from drainage is critical to meeting the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to reduce nitrogen loads by 45 percent. Most of the practices described in the publication are included in the nutrient reduction strategy, while others have the potential to be included following additional research in Iowa. For example, No. 6 is part of the TransformingDrainage.org project that is researching the impacts of drainage water recycling on water quality and crop production.

The 10 practices discussed are:

  1. Improved nitrogen management
  2. Winter cover crops
  3. Increasing perennials in the cropping system
  4. Drainage water management (controlled drainage)
  5. Reduced drainage intensity
  6. Recycling drainage water
  7. Bioreactors
  8. Wetlands
  9. Alternative open-ditch design
  10. Saturated buffers

The description for each of the 10 practices includes an overview of the practice, how it reduces nitrate losses, its effectiveness, where it will work, current level of acceptance and remaining questions and opportunities for improving the practice. In addition to the practice descriptions, the publication also describes the processes affecting nitrate losses from drainage and how the practices manage those processes. Economic considerations and additional benefits of the practices also are discussed.

The publication was developed by Extension Specialists from the University of Illinois, Purdue University, Iowa State University and University of Minnesota along with Chris Hay of the Iowa Soybean Association. A newly funded North Central Region Water Network Seed Grant project, led by the University of Illinois, is underway to develop a comprehensive package of information about these practices based around the Ten Ways publication.

The description for each of the 10 practices includes an overview of the practice, how it reduces nitrate losses, its effectiveness, where it will work, current level of acceptance and remaining questions and opportunities for improving the practice. In addition to the practice descriptions, the publication also describes the processes affecting nitrate losses from drainage and how the practices manage those processes. Economic considerations and additional benefits of the practices also are discussed.

The publication was developed by Extension Specialists from the University of Illinois, Purdue University, Iowa State University and University of Minnesota along with Chris Hay of the Iowa Soybean Association. A newly funded North Central Region Water Network Seed Grant project, led by the University of Illinois, is underway to develop a comprehensive package of information about these practices based around the Ten Ways publication.

For more information and to download a free PDF copy or be directed to a link to order a printed copy visit the I-DROP website. Printed copies also will be available at ISA field days and events related to drainage and water quality.

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For media inquiries, please contact Katie Johnson, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjohnson@iasoybeans.com or Aaron Putze, ISA Communications Director at aputze@iasoybeans.com

For permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos contact Aaron Putze at aputze@iasoybeans.com. Iowa Soybean Association | 1255 SW Prairie Trail Pkwy | Ankeny | IA | 50023 | US

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