Nitrogen fertilizer

Understanding How Growers Are Using Nitrogen Fertilizers

By Brianne Boyett, Associate Editor

Nitrogen fertilizer applications are an important topic for growers. They’re expensive, and farmers only want to give crops what they need. UC Davis researchers want to know more about how growers are using nitrogen, and they’re sending out a survey to growers throughout the state at the end of January.

Jessica Rudnick is a third year Ph.D. student in the Graduate Group of Ecology at the UC Davis Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, and she is overseeing the survey.

“UC Davis is sending out a survey to about 8,000 growers in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley [areas]. We’re asking about perspectives and attitudes on nitrogen management. This is really to understand what the education and outreach resources that are available around nitrogen, how people are understanding the new policies that are coming down the pipeline and how we can optimize both the extension and outreach around nitrogen,” Rudnick said.

“They’re looking for ways to optimize infield use of nitrogen, which is increased efficient production and protection and stewardship of the land and water resources,” Rudnick explained.

Of course, all this stems from new nitrogen regulations and the nitrogen budgets that growers are forced to put together. UC Davis wants to find out how growers feel about all this.

“ I frequently hear from growers that nitrogen regulations are a lot of paperwork. They’re taxing for their valuable time. I know that there’s file cabinets full of paperwork for various pesticides, nitrogen and farm employee information. The list goes on, and from a regulatory burden perspective, it’s another piece of paper that everyone hates filling out.

“However, we are trying to tighten up our systems so that we’re spending resources in the most efficient way, and that we’re producing food efficiently, saving money where we can, cutting costs and not overly applying fertilizer,” Rudnick said.

These surveys will be arriving in the growers’ mailboxes later this month. Please take the time to fill it out and send it back. It’s all self-stamped for growers so that these researchers can find out just how growers are using these regulations.