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University of Minnesota Extension

Nitrogen Smart

Tractor spreading urea

Nitrogen Smart is an educational program for producers that presents fundamentals for maximizing economic return on nitrogen investments while minimizing nitrogen losses.

The morning Nitrogen Smart: Fundamentals session delivers high-quality, research-based education so producers can learn:

  • Sources of nitrogen (N) for crops
  • How nitrogen is lost from soil and how you can reduce losses
  • How to manage nitrogen in drainage systems
  • What the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and Nitrogen Fertilizer Management Plan mean for Minnesota producers
  • Practices to refine nitrogen management, including split applications, alternative N fertilizers, soil and tissue testing and N models

Nitrogen Smart certification is valid for three years after participants complete the Fundamentals course. 

Advanced Nitrogen Smart

Take your nitrogen management to a higher level! Attend one of the Advanced Nitrogen Smart training or all four at the Nitrogen College. This program is now offering CEUs for Certified Crop Advisors.  Advanced Nitrogen Smart is available to participants that have completed the Fundamentals course. There is no cost to attend thanks to the generous support of Minnesota corn farmers and their checkoff dollars. 

Manure management

A 3-hour, detailed look at the nitrogen component of manure.  Get maximum economic and fertility advantage of using manure as a fertilizer source, while minimizing N loss to the environment.  Training includes: forms of N found in manure, N concentration, the nitrogen cycle and manure, application timing, sidedressing manure, regulations pertaining to application, and the effect of cover crops on retaining and recycling N from manure.

CEUs 2 nutrient management (NM), 1 soil and water (SW).

This course is also available as a self-paced online course. You may register at any point and complete the coursework when it is convenient for you.

Enroll in the online manure management course

A deep dive into the 4Rs

This training starts where the original Nitrogen Smart ends.  Begins with a detailed discussion on N rate, the contributions from soil and the stress from climate factors.  Types of N fertilizer are examined in detail with respect to how they behave after application.  Nitrification and urease inhibitors are discussed with respect to how they perform best, when they are warranted, and when they don’t pay.  Research regarding fall, spring, and sidedress timing is examined.  The session concludes with tips on placement specific to various types of fertilizer. 

CEUs: 2 nutrient management (NM), 1 soil and water (SW).

Adapting N management to climate

The effectiveness and advantages of various N management practices are dependent on climatic conditions. Furthermore, N loss is driven by water (specifically soil saturation).  This training looks at average climate conditions including soil temperature, soil moisture status, precipitation, and evapotranspiration together with an eye on the calendar date.  The implications of deviation from average are discussed with respect to adjusting N management practices based on condition.  

CEUs: 2 nutrient management (NM), 1 soil and water (SW).

Preventing nitrate loss to water

Watershed plans have been developed for all of Minnesota that set goals for the reduction of nitrate in surface water.  Additionally, some parts of Minnesota are dealing with high nitrate levels in groundwater.  Individual farmers, and the industry as a whole, are being asked to make changes that will positively impact water quality.  This session explores the effect of N fertilizer management, edge-of-field practices (such as bioreactors and saturated buffers), and cropping system practices (like cover crops or changing crop rotations) so that individuals can determine whether practices will work on their farms, and which are the best fit.  3 Soil and Water CEUs. 

CEUs: 3 soil and water (SW).

Upcoming events

There are no upcoming events scheduled at this time. See other crop events from Extension.

Nitrogen Smart online

The fundamentals course is also offered online as a self-paced course.  If you need to leave the course before you finish, you may come back anytime. Your progress is automatically saved and you should return where you left off.  Thanks to the generous support of the Minnesota Corn Growers, there is no charge for the Nitrogen Smart course.

Online enrollment instructions

  1. When you click on the "Enroll in Nitrogen Smart" button below, you will go to the enrollment page. Pick the available section of either Fundamentals or Manure and select "Add to cart" (you must complete Fundamentals before taking Manure). Proceed to "Checkout."
    enrollment page
  2. After you have clicked "Checkout," you will either log in or create a new University of Minnesota guest account to access the course. Note that your email address will be used as your UMN "internet ID" for this course.  
    Please also note that University passwords must be 16 (!) characters long. We recommend using a phrase you can remember.
  3. After creating your course log in information, you will be directed back to the enrollment checkout process. Fill in only the required information as indicated by an asterisk (*) and "Continue checkout."
  4. You're now enrolled in the course! You will receive a confirmation email with a link to access the course.

Enroll in Nitrogen Smart online

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