A Matter of Balance: Feeding our Crops, Protecting the Waters of the Great Lakes

March 3, 2017 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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Nitrogen, phosphorus, livestock manure and other organic inputs are essential for soil health, crop growth and farm profitability, but nutrients that escape from the field are potential pollutants. On-farm nutrient management and application technologies have greatly improved in recent years, yet water quality problems associated with excess nutrients and other contaminants persist in Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and other waterways.

Research results and on-farm observation has shown that runoff water from rainfall and snowmelt is nutrient rich. Excessive rainfall can quickly enter subsurface drains by natural channels in the soil formed by plant roots, soil fauna and other natural phenomena. Experience has shown that the changing climate will present even greater challenges from more frequent, higher intensity storms and increased runoff.

Conference speakers will include national experts and experienced crop producers who will explain how to capture crop nutrients and organic inputs in the root zone for crop use and soil health. Attendees will learn:

  • How to identify and measure key indicators of soil health, and how tillage and cover crops affect soil health.
  • Practical management options for retaining drainage water for reuse and recycling crop nutrients for greater yields.
  • How new designs and advances in bioreactors can help protect the quality of drainage water that leaves the field.
  • How precision agriculture technologies can reduce nutrient loss, protect the environment and improve farm profitability.
  • Emerging issues of importance facing farmers and other landowners that can affect soil and water quality.

The conference was organized by the Michigan Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (MI-SWCS) in collaboration with Michigan State University Extension. Additional information and registration information are available at the MI-SWCS website and through this link: Conference info and registration.

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