The Mississippi Nutrient Management Manual: Simplifying Availability of Maintenance-Based Fertilizer Recommendations and Nutrient Best Management Practices

Author(s): Oldham, L.

Plant nutrient dynamics at the agriculture and environment interface is a societal concern. Injudicious application rates or improper application may have deleterious effects on water or soil quality; however supplemental nutrient applications often maximize agronomic crop production and profitability. Prior to 2007, Mississippians spent about $155 million per year on fertilizers for all uses; dramatic price increases that year nearly doubled fertilizer expenditures. Fertilizer prices have been volatile due to both supply and demand issues since the adjustment. Broiler chicken production is the main animal feeding industry located in the state; the litter produced is valued as a plant nutrient source both in the poultry production region, and other areas in the state. Mississippi State University fertilizer recommendations are chiefly based on the maintenance philosophy of soil testing: providing sufficient phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilizer for the current crop, and controlling soil acidity. The university does not recommend P and/or K if the soil test index is high or very high, except one research-verified exception for cotton. Nitrogen fertilizer recommendations are research-based crop and soil specific, but lack a valid soil test for Mississippi climatic conditions. For many years, specific crop recommendations resided in various outreach platforms, as did recommended Best Management Practices. With combined economic and environmental interests, there was a need to centralize the Mississippi State University Extension Service nutrient recommendation and associated Best Management Practice outreach efforts. The Nutrient Management Guidelines for Agronomic Crops Grown in Mississippi (Manual) was developed for ease of use by crop advisers, farmers, government advisers, and others. The Manual exists both as hard copy, and a dynamic, updatable presence on the Extension Service website. Chapters/subjects include introductions to Nutrient Management, soils of Mississippi, nutrients, soil testing, fertilizers, and lime. Other chapters focus on poultry litter as fertilizer and Best Management Practices for nutrients. Separate appendices include the soil testing based fertility recommendations for forages and annual agronomic crops. In addition, there is a Glossary of nutrient management terminology. The centralization of research-proven recommendations, information, and guidelines should facilitate better management of plant nutrients in the Mississippi environment for many years.
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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