Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee Funds MSU Research to Support Growers

by Grace McDonald

BOZEMAN – Ten agricultural research projects in the Montana State University College of Agriculture received support from the Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee last month, seeking to advance knowledge around cropping systems, environmental preservation, water management and more.

Each year, the seven-member Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee disburses funds collected through an assessment on commercial fertilizers. The assessment was approved by the Montana Legislature to support research and education focused on soil fertility and management. The committee is made up of agricultural producers and includes representatives from the College of Agriculture and MSU Extension.

“This year’s proposals were well received by the committee, and it was very competitive,” said Darrin Boss, associate director of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station and assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture. “The desire to support producers by generating research made possible through the fertilizer assessment was wonderful to see. I want to thank the volunteer committee who did a stellar job throughout the review and selection process.”

This year’s MFAC funding totals just under $394,000 and will support more than two dozen MSU faculty and graduate students from the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology and Department of Research Centers. A full list of the funded projects is below.

  • “Fertility Management for Optimum Yield and Quality of Soy and Dry Beans in Eastern Montana” – This research will generate information on fertility management for soy and dry beans, including variety selection, to fill a current void in recommendations for Montana producers.
  • “Testing Dibutyldithiophosphate as a Seed Treatment to Boost Plant Growth Without Increasing Fertilizer Use” – This project will develop a DBDTP seed treatment to boost yield for Montana growers without increasing fertilizer use, with the potential for new product development.
  • “Research Analytical Chemist, Environmental Analytical Laboratory” – This project will partially fund a scientist in a shared laboratory that conducts research and education related to agriculture and environmental health, providing guidance to both undergraduate and graduate students and resulting in educational outcomes that broadly benefit Montana.
  • “Examining the Impact of Physiological Leaf Spot in Winter Wheat and the Role of Chloride in Reducing Symptoms” – This research will evaluate the effect of physiological leaf spot on grain yield in winter wheat and determine the impact of chloride fertilizer treatments on those symptoms, as well as on grain yield, test weight and protein content.
  • “Sulfur Source and Rate Effects on Yield and Quality of Wheat, Pea and Canola” – This project will address a lack of research into sulfur’s role in soil fertility and establish critical sulfur levels to guide producers on whether to fertilize with sulfur – and if so, how much to use.
  • “pH Remediation by Perennial Forages Following 18 Years of Nitrogen Management in Alternative Crop Rotations” – This research will provide a baseline for productivity and quality of alfalfa, grass and mixed perennial forage. It will identify how perennial forage systems stabilize pH or reverse pH decline and which systems are most effective.
  • “Winter Canola Seeding Date and Fertilizer Application Timing in Montana” – This project will identify optimal seeding dates and fertilizer practices for canola to help the crop establish and overwinter. A multi-site experiment will explore planting dates and application timing of nitrogen and sulfur fertilizers.
  • “Relationship Between Fertility and Water Management, Production and Quality of Advanced Spring Forage, Feed and Malt Barley Lines” – This project will seek to determine the optimum levels of nitrogen for new forage, feed and malt barley lines and will examine the impacts of different genes on both nitrogen use and grain protein content.
  • “Assessing Sulfur Fertilization as a Means to Improve Statewide Forage Quality and Value by Reducing Nitrate Accumulations in Cereal Forages” – This work will aim to better understand the role of sulfur in how forage barley accumulates nitrate, filling a key gap for maximizing forage quality for grazing livestock.
  • “Quantifying Nitrogen Leaching in Irrigated Fields” – This project will deepen knowledge of when producers should apply nitrogen fertilizer and water for minimal nitrogen leaching with the goal of refining recommendations. The project will aim to save producers money on agricultural inputs while protecting surrounding environments from harms from excessive nitrogen leaching.

More information about the Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee can be found at ag.montana.edu/mfac.    

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MSU

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