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Less nitrogen loss from fields protects farmers’ bottom line—and the environment 

Online Tool Reduces Farm Nitrogen Loss

August 28, 2014

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Less nitrogen loss from fields protects farmers’ bottom line—and the environment.

Adapt-N, an online tool developed at Cornell, helps farmers decide how and when to apply nitrogen fertilizer to their cornfields, based on data they enter about soil composition and field history, combined with real-time weather and climate monitoring. Users receive daily email updates, so that they can manage nitrogen levels for the maximum crop yield, with less nitrogen lost into waterways and the atmosphere.

Soil scientist Harold van Es, climatologist Art DeGaetano, and senior research associate Jeff Melkonian created the first version of the software in 2005. Now the Cornell team has partnered with a New York City start-up to commercialize the tool, as the Guardian recently reported. With the commercial launch this spring, farmers and agronomists in 25 states are using the tool to manage corn crops.

Nitrous oxide from cornfields has a greenhouse gas impact similar to the entire U.S. aviation industry. Van Es explains:

With greenhouse gases, most people think about carbon dioxide and maybe methane, but people don’t think about nitrous oxide, and it’s a very big concern. If you were to say within the aviation industry, we can reduce our carbon footprint by 25 percent, people would be saying well that’s fantastic, that is big news. We think we can do that with nitrous oxide.

Read more in the Guardian.