Wisconsin's farmland nutrient balance gap widens
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - As Wisconsin farmers continue to enjoy record yields, researchers are warning that nutrient removal is now outpacing nutrient application, a trend which could soon hit growers' bottom lines.
These are the findings of an exclusive eKonomics nutrient balance analysis, which recently collected USDA harvest records and manure application data, along with the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) fertilizer consumption reports.
"Ultimately, Wisconsin farmers may find themselves victims of their own success," said Robert Mullen, Ph.D., Director of Agronomy at Nutrien. "Thanks to recent bumper crops, growers here are removing nutrients faster than they are applying them."
Since 1975, the potassium balance trend in Wisconsin remains at a 7 pounds-per-acre deficit. Meanwhile, the phosphorus balance dropped from a surplus of 10 pounds-per-acre to a 20 pounds-per-acre deficit.
"This is a significant swing, which if not corrected will lead to more Wisconsin soils falling below the critical level for these critical nutrients," Mullen stated.
Today, 65 percent of Wisconsin soils already fall below the critical level for potassium, while nearly 48 percent are deficient in phosphorus.
"The big takeaway here is-it's easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when yields have been so good," Mullen said. "But if you're not replenishing the soil at levels that match harvests, it's not a question of if your bottom line will be impacted, but when. And that applies to everyone. Whether you're renting for one year or have owned and operated the land for decades."
"There's no escaping the math. When nutrient balance trends go down, farmer profits ultimately go down too," said Mullen.