CARBONDALE, Ill. — With more than 700 soil types in Illinois, southern Illinois soils have different compositions and are conducive to different conservation practices than in central or northern regions, especially when it comes to fertilizer applications.
Those attending Nutrient Research and Education Council’s southern version of its field day at Southern Illinois University Farms were focused more on phosphorus conservation.
“One of the things that we’re finding is that a lot of the initial research we’ve done on nutrient loss focused on nitrates that were lost through tile. We know that’s not really the situation in the southern part of the state. So, there’s a lot more focus on phosphorus and movement of nutrients aside from tile.,” explained Julie Armstrong, NREC executive director.
When NREC hosted a seminar on campus last spring, there also was a meeting with researchers about potential new research on nutrient management. The result relates to two new projects on gypsum.
“One is looking at using gypsum to manage phosphorus losses, and other one is a white paper on body of research on phosphorus loss and then looking at that for gap analysis and identifying some potential projects as we go forward,” Armstrong said.
Although global gypsum supplies are in decline, she added that gypsum is a byproduct from coal-fired plants and provide a ready supply.
Since 2014, NREC has invested just shy of $1 million in research at SIU. The council has invested nearly $16 million statewide since 2013, including a $4 million research allocation in 18 projects — eight new ones — this year alone.
Funding these projects comes from a 75-cent assessment per ton of fertilizer sold in Illinois. Between these projects and communications and outreach projects to farmers and fertilizer industry professionals, all of the projects are about application, cover crops or preventing nutrient loss.
The SIU field day also provided on update on NREC-sponsored research. This included a project by Karl Williard and Jon Schoonover on a two-stage saturated buffer that uses cover crops into saturated buffer designs for nitrogen mitigation.