Refresh Your BMP Plan

Amanda Huber, Editor
Amanda Huber, Editor

Standing in front of corn well over his head, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences best management practices outreach coordinator Joel Love talks about BMPs in corn as part of the North Florida Research and Education Center Suwannee Valley virtual corn field day.

BMPs are not new, Love says, and neither are issues concerning nitrates in groundwater. Florida has developed a basin management action plan, or BMAP, as a framework for water quality restoration. Agriculture’s role is to follow BMPs to meet nutrient load limits.

Love says BMPs must be practical and economically feasible. “The farm has to be able to make money and be sustainable. That defines a water-quality BMP from an ag perspective.”
One of the first things to address is irrigation water management because nutrients, especially nitrogen, move with the water.

joel love, corn BMPs
Joel Love, BMP outreach specialist, installs a soil moisture sensor for a corn grower — photo by Charles Barrett, UF/IFAS

“If an irrigation system is not functioning properly or is not being managed correctly, it is not applying water at the right time or in the correct amount. Either you are not providing what the crop needs or nutrients are being leached below the root zone for corn. That’s key.”

The winter is a good time to evaluate your center-pivot irrigation system to be sure it is applying the correct amount uniformly. Love says 50% to 75% of nitrogen is being applied through pivot irrigation, so it’s critical to know these essential elements are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

For more on this and other corn topics, view the field day videos at

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