Search for Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture Recognition Program

Jay Capasso
Extension Agent 1
UF/IFAS Extension

Capasso, J.*1, , Willis, S.2, , Love, J.3, , Barrett, C.4, , Broughton, D.5, , Sharma, L.6,
1 Extension Agent 1, UF/IFAS Extension, Lake City, FL, 32055
2 Extension Agent 1, UF/IFAS Extension, Live Oak, FL, 32064
3 BMP Outreach/Education Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension, Live Oak, FL, 32060
4 Regional Specialized Agent, UF/IFAS Extension, Live Oak, FL, 32060
5 Regional Specialized Agent, UF/IFAS Extension, Live Oak, FL, 32060
6 Assistant Professor, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL, 32611

Field corn is an important commodity crop grown on approximately 100,000 acres in Florida. Best management practices (BMPs) have been implemented to address water quality and quantity concerns associated with growing crops. In this program, on-farm demonstration trials were conducted to compare the fertilizer application methods of banding control release fertilizer to broadcasting conventional fertilizer in Columbia and Suwannee Counties. Farmers were also educated on agricultural cost share opportunities, available producer grants, and the use of soil moisture sensors. Objectives: To (1) asses the practice of banding control release fertilizer to increase yields and nutrient use efficiency, (2) educate farmers on BMPs to reduce nutrient loss and conserve irrigation water, and (3) educate farmers on acquiring available producer grants and agricultural cost share. Methods: Extension agents secured funding through grants to compare fertilizer application methods and sources. The cooperators were provided equipment and inputs to implement BMPs on their farms. Educational materials were created to disseminate project results. Results: Increased yields were found in the banding control release fertilizer treatment in the 2019 and 2020 seasons at the Columbia County farm but not during the 2020 season at the Suwannee County farm. Soil nitrate data indicates more gradual release of nutrients in the banded control release fertilizer treatment at both cooperating farms. The farmer cooperators pursued cost share through the Suwannee River Management District to obtain a side dressing rig and soil moisture sensors. A no-till drill with the capacity to efficiently band fertilizer on top of the row, was acquired through a producer grant. Conclusion: This research allowed Extension agents to provide farmers, stakeholders, and policy makers information on the banding of control release fertilizer. As a result of participating in the demonstration trial, cooperating growers adopted BMPs, agricultural cost share, and utilized available producer grant funds.