Nitrogen Smart builds on nitrogen management offerings in fourth year

Nitrogen fertilizer application

University of Minnesota Extension’s Nitrogen Smart returns later this month with seminars scheduled across Minnesota farm country focused on the fundamentals of nitrogen management. Now in its fourth year, the program has expanded on its acclaimed curriculum to offer online and advanced education options.

Nitrogen Smart’s research-based education on nitrogen management returns Jan. 28 in Rochester, with dates following in Waseca, St. Cloud and Lamberton (full schedule below). More than 700 farmers have attended Nitrogen Smart sessions to date, with 95 percent of attendees stating they would recommend the course to a fellow farmer.

Brad Carlson Extension Educator

Brad Carlson helps lead the Nitrogen Smart program

The curriculum at each stop will again focus on the sources of nitrogen for crops, how to manage nitrogen in drainage systems, an update on regulations and how they impact farmers, and practices to refine nitrogen management.

“We aren’t going to tell you what is right and wrong in terms of nitrogen management on your farm,” said Extension Educator Brad Carlson, who helps lead the program. “We are going to talk about sources of nitrogen and how it behaves on the farm, then farmers are able to figure out how to best use that information with their operation.”

To date, the curriculum has helped attending farmers save, on average, more than $3,200 from either increased yields or reduced fertilizer costs. In addition to savings, farmers also receive Nitrogen Smart certification upon completion of the seminar.

Farmers who are unable to attend an in-person seminar can now become Nitrogen Smart online. The new and interactive training program creates a unique experience for producers based on their own operation and region. The online course is nearly identical to in-person seminars, with participants receiving the same certification after completing the course.

Also for the first time, farmers who have already attended the base Nitrogen Smart seminar can attend an Advanced Nitrogen Smart course, which will follow Nitrogen Smart sessions at each stop in the afternoon. The topic of this year’s advanced seminar is manure management. Carlson said the curriculum will focus on the timing and limitations of manure use and its impact on yield. Next year, Advanced Nitrogen Smart will add a course focused on the 4R’s of nutrient management.

Carlson said Extension will also be scheduling more sessions in 2019, targeting areas with above-normal nitrate concentrations in drinking water. Farmers can learn about additional dates here.

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association supports the Nitrogen Smart program as part of its mission to become the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the country.

2019 Nitrogen Smart Program (Additional dates will be added here):


  • Monday, January 28
  • Base course: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Advanced Nitrogen Smart: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
  • RCTC Heintz Center


  • Tuesday, January 29
  • Base course: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • Advanced Nitrogen Smart: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
  • FarmAmerica

St. Cloud

  • Wednesday, January 30
  • Base course: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Advanced Nitrogen Smart: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
  • Holiday Inn St. Cloud


  • Thursday, January 31
  • Base course: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Advanced Nitrogen Smart: 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
  • Southwestern Research and Outreach Center

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