Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Fall Nitrogen; Rumors, Responsibility and Regulation

We want to thank the many IFCA members who continue to hold back on applying nitrogen until the soil temperatures reach and will most likely stay at 50 degrees or below.  The newly updated agronomy handbook no longer recommends applying ammonia above 50 degrees even when a stabilizer is used.  The old saying of "stabilize at 60 or wait until 50" no longer applies, and while we understand that it takes a while for this new message of "wait until 50" to permeate in the country, we all need to stand by this new recommendation for agronomic and water quality protection. 

We also want to let everyone know that despite the rumors circulating out there, there are no airplanes looking for ammonia tanks in the fields and the EPA is not writing tickets or taking people to jail.  However, these rumors do reflect the seriousness of the situation.  Recently the Iowa Governor proclaimed that farmers need more regulation because they aren't following best management practices.  Let's keep that rhetoric from crossing the river. 

We have had numerous meetings in the last month with EPA, the Dept of Ag, point source dischargers (municipalities) and environmental groups discussing how to enact a statewide strategy to reduce nutrient losses.  We believe that unless we enact a strategy to better manage nutrients in a systematic approach, the environmental groups will sue us under the Clean Water Act and this could result in new water quality standards in streams that will be impossible to meet.  This has occurred in Florida and is a nightmare for the ag industry down there as they are preparing for strict nutrient regulations.  The Florida folks tell IFCA that we need to learn from their experience and be more proactive in nutrient management strategies to stave off these lawsuits. 

Despite the outcome of the upcoming election, these issues will not go away because the Clean Water Act is what is driving this issue and no one expects the Clean Water Act to be repealed even if the makup of Congress changes. 

IFCA does not relish being the nitrogen police we but are looking out for the industry's best interests.  Losing nitrogen makes no sense economically, agronomically, or environmentally.  We want to maintain the ability to apply nitrogen in the fall as we move forward with more innovative nutrient management programs. 

Please wait until soil temps are 50 degrees to start.  Thank you!