"Adaptive Management” is an iterative strategy where farmers identify opportunities for improvement in production and environmental footprints, evaluate a management change on their own farm, through on-farm research and/or annual performance assessments.
Whole farm nutrient mass balance (NMB) assessments is such an annual performance tool at the whole farm level while field nutrient balances are evaluation approaches at the field or within-field scale. The adaptive management strategy for field crop management introduced in NY in 2013, affords farm autonomy and decision making for site-specific problem solving and tracks issues and successes. When farms share results of the on-farm evaluations, successful strategies can be expanded to more fields and farms. Combined, anonymized data from participating farms can help identify practices and policies that incentivize improvements over time. While these whole farm and field-level tools were developed for nitrogen and phosphorus management with focus on water quality impact, reduction of N use will also reduce nitrous oxide emissions – a potent greenhouse gas.
About Dr. Ketterings
Dr. Ketterings established and leads the Cornell Nutrient Management Spear Program, the college’s applied research, teaching and extension program for field crop fertilizer and manure management, that aims to (1) improve farmers awareness of soil fertility management, and (2) aid in the development and implementation of agronomic and environmentally sound nutrient management practices at dairy and other livestock farms as well as cash grain operations. The NMSP leads the release of tools to integrate and apply accumulated knowledge about crop nutrient guidelines to optimize crop yield while minimizing risk to the environment.