WERA_OLD103: Nutrient Management and Water Quality

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

WERA_OLD103: Nutrient Management and Water Quality

Duration: 10/01/2010 to 09/30/2015

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Plant nutrients are essential for the profitable and sustainable production of food and fiber. Nutrient management in the Western Region is becoming increasingly important because of rising fertilizer prices and the need to protect both ground and surface water resources. When improperly used, nutrients have been implicated in decreased water quality. There are many specific management options that can be implemented to improve the way nutrients are used and to minimize their potentially adverse environmental impact. Best Management Practices are currently being developed for major crops throughout the West to improve nutrient use. Federal agencies, state Land Grant institutions, and private industry are currently cooperating to identify and reduce the potentially negative impact of poor nutrient management on profitability and the environment. These issues generally are more related to cropping systems and watersheds than state-line boundaries. The need for region-wide cooperation to develop consistent and science-based recommendations is great. Information sharing on a region-wide basis improves accuracy, efficiency, and reduces waste of resources. This project has provided and presently provides an excellent educational forum for scientists, industry representatives, governmental agencies, and consultants to engage in dialogue about nutrient management issues.

Best Management Practices are being developed by scientists for implementation by extension and industry agronomists and consultants. A re-evaluation of current nutrient management practices and the development of improved techniques to estimate specific crop nutrient requirements will provide the foundation to improve soil, water and air quality. Additionally, quantifying the fate of nutrients in unmanaged ecosystems also provides important insight to the reactions occurring in managed agricultural soils. The use of organic nutrient sources, such as manure and compost, also pose challenges to efficient utilization. Accurate soil, water, and plant analytical information is essential for making nutrient management decisions. This analytical information will likely become increasingly important for regulatory compliance to environmental standards. The cooperation and continuing education of analytical labs offering agricultural services is important for providing accurate information to local decision makers. Review of the latest analytical techniques appropriate for the Western Region is needed.


  1. Develop and/or improve nutrient recommendations for diverse cropping systems based on soil, water and plant analysis results and management strategies in the Western Region.
  2. Promote effective use of soil, water, plant, manure, and compost analytical information
  3. Provide education on the principles of soil-plant-animal-water system management and the tools and practices that lead to sustainable agricultural production.

Procedures and Activities

Procedures for Objective 1:
a) Provide nutrient correlation and calibration data for crops in the region.
b) Work toward uniformity of nutrient use recommendations for similar crop production systems in the region.
c) Evaluate and apply new nutrient analytical and interpretive methodologies.
d) Evaluate the efficacy of new fertilizers and formulations.

Procedures for Objective 2:
a) Integrate analytical test results into nutrient management software
b) Maintain and update the Western States Soil etc Testing Manual
c) Review status of soil/plant/water analysis Extension guides and summarize interpretive guidance
d) Explore method for internet distribution of methods manual, analytical interpretation guides etc. Website would be for clientele outreach.

Procedures for Objective 3:
a) Facilitate regional education among government agencies, private industry and universities through conferences, websites, extension publications, newsletters, and other appropriate media.
b) Disseminate information within the Western Region to extension educators, private agencies (e.g., Certified Crop Advisors) and other interested parties (e.g., K-12 teachers) through conferences, training the trainer opportunities, and access to published interpretive materials.
c) Conduct direct education to agricultural producers through conferences, grower meetings, and published interpretive materials.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Improved nutrient management recommendations and nutrient management guides for traditional and alternative crops in the region.
  • Improved information on selection and utilization of available plant nutrient products.
  • Conduct the biennial Western Nutrient Management Conference. This conference brings agricultural professionals and industry members from the Western Region together for training and communication on nutrient management. This leads to improved efficiency and reduced impact of fertilizer use on the environment.
  • Develop post conference electronic versions of conference presentations for non-attendees on a fee basis.
  • Provide educational opportunities in multiple venues throughout the Western region, with invited presentations by committee members. This will provide insight into scientific and technical resources for training, conferences, and grower meetings.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

The educational component of WERA-103 will focus on delivery of the latest nutrient management information and other technology to educators and industry agronomists. This will be done through regional publications, web-based bulletins, and regional conferences. The Western Nutrient Management Conference provides university, government and industry personnel an opportunity to interact and share their findings and respond to emerging issues. These Conferences also foster additional cooperative research and extension efforts. Coordination with the North American Proficiency Testing Program and associated publications will educate the agricultural industry about continuing advances in soil and plant analysis. This effort will support soil and plant analysis programs across the region. Planned publications outlined under expected outcomes will support state faculty and industry personnel in their ongoing educational efforts in nutrient management and water quality. The efforts of the groups producing these publications will help focus research efforts on those areas where additional data is needed.


The Committee Chair provides leadership for the committee and is responsible for coordination with the Western Directors, and for planning the annual meeting. The Committee Chair Elect provides support to the Chair and becomes the Chair the following year. The Secretary is responsible for submitting minutes and state reports from annual meeting and becomes Chair Elect. Officers serve for one year. An individual is selected from the committee to be the Coordinator of the Western Nutrient Management Conference. This person works closely with the Committee leadership in program planning. Other subcommittees are established as needed to meet the planned programming of WERA-103.

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

ARS-ID, Brigham Young University, Dellavalle Laboratroy, Inc, J.R. Simplot CO, Manure, Compost and USGAPT Proficiency Programs, other: CA, USDA-ARS/Arizona, Western Ag Innovations Inc., Wilbur-Ellis Company
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