The rising cost of fertilizer has many growers looking for ways to become more efficient in nitrogen placement, and that'll be one of the timely topics covered during the Delta Research and Extension Center's 2008 Agronomic Crops Field Day, scheduled for July 17 in Stoneville, Miss.

“We'll be looking at where we are going with nitrogen and other nutrient applications,” says Tim Walker, a DREC associate research professor.

“More specifically, we are looking at using vegetative indices for predicting in-season rice nitrogen needs, including increased monitoring of the plant to determine its needs.”

It is the goal of researchers, says Walker, to come up with a soil-based estimate of how much nitrogen the plant will get from the soil based on a soil analysis. “Then we will use remote sensing to address any in-season needs,” he adds.

The work includes variably applying nitrogen prior to flood and variably applying it in the flood as a mid-season application, explains Walker.

“This is conceptual, but it's not too far out in the future. We're combining soil tests and plant-based measurements. The plant is not going to lie to us — it's going to tell us what it needs. Economics are driving us to be more efficient with fertilizer inputs. We are trying to use some of the tools that have been developed, and are being used in other crops, and adapt those to rice.”

Registration for the field day begins at 8 a.m.

Barry Barnett, associate professor of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University, will present the event's keynote address on the 2008 farm bill.

Lunch will be served at 12:15 p.m., following sessions on the production of rice, soybeans, cotton and corn.

Presenters and topics for the rice/soybean session are as follows: Nathan Buehring, rice production update; Tim Walker, precision management of nitrogen; Jason Bond, new rice herbicides; Dwight Kanter; developments in rice breeding; Jason Bond, rice seed treatments; Trey Koger, soybean production update; Dan Poston, soybean production research; Tom Allen, soybean rust update; Jeff Gore; soybean insect research at DREC; and Gabe Sciumbato, soybean diseases.

Presenters and topics for the cotton/corn session include: Darren Dodds, cotton production update; Peggy Thaxton, developing cotton varieties for the Mississippi Delta; Robin Bond, resistant ryegrass in cotton; Wayne Ebelhar, plant growth regulator and nitrogen rates in cotton; Jeff Gore, cotton insect research at DREC; Lyle Pringle; irrigation/tillage in cotton and corn; Gabe Sciumbato, cotton seedling diseases and nematodes; Vijay Nandula, herbicide-resistant weeds in the Mississippi Delta; Wayne Ebelhar, seeding rates and nitrogen rates for corn; and Chris Daves, corn insect control.