InfoAg 2017 Presentation
The Tulane Challenge

Regency C
Thu, Jul 27, 2017
9:00 AM to 11:00 AM


There is no single solution to the problem of inefficient fertilizer use. A systems approach to nitrogen management is needed. Team Cropsmith proposes a blend of soil chemistry, microbiology, agronomy, and data analysis to determine the best practices for fertilizer N for efficient corn production. Our system includes:

  1. a novel soil test to determine the N supplying power of the soil,
  2. innovative new products to reduce N loss and enhance biological N fixation,
  3. agronomic recommendations that adapt to corn production regions and farmer risk management strategies
  4. a system of data generation that helps farmers and their consultants customize N applications to fit the particular needs of a field.

This approach faces the fact that N management is a complex issue and a systems approach is the best solution for economic and environmental sustainability. 

Of the nitrogen needed to feed the crop, most comes from the soil. But different soils have different capabilities for mineralizing nitrogen and making it available to the crop. The Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) is a measure of a portion of organic nitrogen in the soil. This measure coincides with the microbial biomass which is a direct indication of the potential for the soil to mineralize nitrogen. When we know what nitrogen to expect from the soil we can better explain the yield response to applied nitrogen fertilizer. Factoring the nitrogen coming from the soil into the equation for the overall N needed by the crop makes our fertilizer N recommendations much more efficient. We add more nitrogen where the soil supply is low. We add less nitrogen where the soil supply is high. 

Tim Smith
Farmer City, IL 61842
Tim Smith is the managing agronomist for Cropsmith Inc., where he has been instrumental in the development of programs aimed at improving nutrient use efficiencies for producers. Previously he was a visiting research specialist in soil fertility at the University of Illinois. He researched improving nitrogen use efficiency in corn production. The primary emphasis is on development of the ISNT to improve nitrogen recommendations for corn, especially as related to site-specific application. He has extensive knowledge of the ISNT laboratory procedure. Smith works on the spatial and temporal aspect of the ISNT and sampling to improve map quality. He has developed Cropsmith's independent lab for the analysis of soil samples using the ISNT procedure.

Smith has experience as a marketing information manager for a farmer owned cooperative with over eight million dollars in sales. He has developed precision application programs that benefited farmers by reducing fertilizer usage and increasing yields.

Smith is a Certified Professional Agronomist and has 25 years of experience working directly with producers on fertility related issues. He has wide-ranging knowledge of variable rate application equipment and software.