A MATTER OF BALANCE: Feeding our Crops and Protecting our Water in a Changing Climate

Date: March 6, 2015
Time: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Location: Michigamme Room, Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Contact: Daniel Kesselring, dfbjkring@att.net

On-farm nutrient management has greatly improved in the past twenty-five years yet water quality problems associated with algae blooms and oxygen depletion persist in Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and other waterways. Climate change is likely to present even greater challenges from more frequent, higher intensity storms and increased runoff. This conference will examine the linkage between cropping practices and nutrient enrichment of runoff and drainage water, and offer practical solutions for capturing and cycling nitrogen, phosphorus and other potential contaminants in the root zone. 

Much of the most productive cropland in the Great Lakes Region has been improved with subsurface tile drains. Research results and on-farm observation has shown that while conservation tillage reduces runoff, nutrient-enriched water from rainfall, snowmelt and other sources can quickly enter subsurface drains by preferential flow through macro pores ‒ large, continuous openings in the soil formed by plant roots, soil fauna, cracks, fissures and other natural phenomena. Soils under no-till crop management often have more continuous macro pores than tilled soils.

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