​NRD Offers New Twist on Nitrogen Management Training

​NRD Offers New Twist on Nitrogen Management Training

Thursday, December 31, 2020
A suggestion from the public has changed the content and format of the nitrogen management trainings offered by the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District in the winter of 2020/2021.

Each year the NRD offers several training dates in locations across the district to address issues related to nitrogen fertilizer use, including how nitrogen use impacts water quality in the district, mandatory reporting, and resources available. All district producers who are in a Phase II or III management area are required to attend one of these training sessions or to complete an agronomic centered take-home test every four years to maintain their nitrogen certification.

A member of the ag community suggested at a board of directors meeting in the fall of 2020 that the NRD consider expanding the annual programing to include more content, as overuse of nitrogen fertilizer in the past has many concerned about water quality and the threat of additional regulation across the state in the future. More education, they reasoned, could be part of the solution to changing agricultural practices and stave off the need for enhancing rules around fertilizer use.

Dan Leininger, water conservationist for the NRD, is the chief organizer for the annual nitrogen management training sessions. Leininger saw this suggestion a way to give producers more learning opportunities by expanding training topics. Previously, the same content was delivered at each session, no matter where it was offered, so that attendees would hear a consistent message across the district. This year, some portions of the trainings offered are standard across all locations, while others are varied. Producers still need to attend only one training session, however, they have been encouraged to attend multiple training events or watch the recordings from each of the events to hear the expanded content.

The first session was held at the Leadership Center in Aurora on December 16. In addition to presentations from NRD employees, participants also heard from Dean Krull with Nebraska Agricultural Extension on interseeder cover crop trials and from Ron Jakubowski with Aurora Co-Op on nitrogen use efficiency. Both of these sessions are available online. Upcoming sessions will be posted to this page as well.

Also in December, the NRD offered its annual Project GROW Winter Workshop in York, which touched on some of the same concepts as the other nitrogen management trainings as well as broader topics about soil health. That event drew about 50 people in-person and the same amount online, as it was offered for the first time in this hybrid format. Video of all Project GROW Winter Workshop sessions is available online.

In January, the training opportunity took place in Osceola at the Polk County Fairgrounds, where the 40+ producers heard from Tim Mundorf, a nutrient management lead at Central Valley Ag. Mundorf's informative program looked at how to analyze a soil test so that producers can make informed, data-led decisions about their nutrient needs for maximum profitability (video).

The final training opportunity for this season will be Wednesday, February 10, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Holthus Convention Center in York. This event will include sessions from guest presenters as well as NRD staff. Dr. Dan Snow, University of Nebraska research associate professor, will present on how nitrate-nitrogen moves through the soil profile in Nebraska. Paul Jasa, University of Nebraska Lincoln extension engineer, will present on increasing nitrogen efficiency using cover crops and reduced tillage. This event will be held in person and on Zoom.

“We hope that local growers will take advantage of these opportunities to learn,” said Leininger. “The NRD wants to partner with producers so that we can all work together to protect the natural resources of our district while improving nitrogen use efficiency.”