Irrigation & Nitrogen Management

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User Education / Certification Program

Producer education is a key component of all NRD Groundwater Management Plans. The University of Nebraska Extension developed the original version of a training program that was delivered via face-to-face interactions between producers and UNL Educators. This online version of the training program provides the knowledge base needed by producers to manage both nitrogen and irrigation in a manner that will reduce nonpoint source nitrogen contamination and be profitable.

Good management of both nitrogen and water is necessary to reduce nitrate contamination of groundwater. Below are key nitrogen and irrigation water management practices needed to protect water quality and conserve water.

Keys for nitrogen management practicesKeys for irrigation water management practices
Set realistic expected yield goal   Use soil water sensors to know the current soil water content
Use deep soil samples to determine residual nitrate-nitrogen Use crop ET information to check the accuracy of soil water sensors
Give proper credit for non-fertilizer nitrogen sources Know how much water you apply by using a water meter;
Time nitrogen applications to match crop uptake needs Manage pivot irrigation so there is always some room left in the root zone for capturing possible precipitation
Consider potential N losses, and manage to minimize them Adjust both set times and furrow flow rates to apply water uniformly under furrow irrigation
Use some in-season N sensing technology to fine tune N applications Use surge valves to increase furrow irrigation water application uniformity
Apply only the amount of nitrogen required to achieve expected yield Schedule last irrigation to leave space for off-season precipitation
Understand the nitrogen cycle to manage fertilizer more effectively  


Instructions for the online course

Proceed to the training program

Additional Resources

Irrigation & Nitrogen Management Introduction

Section A text

Recent Trends in Nitrogen Fertilizer
and Water Use in Irrigated Corn

Section B text

Soil Characteristics that Influence
Nitrogen and Water Management

Section C text | Additional Videos

What Happens When Nitrogen is Applied to The Soil

Section D text

How to Determine the Optimum
Rate of Nitrogen Fertilizer

Section E text

Giving Credit For Non-Fertilizer Nitrogen Sources

Section F text | Additional Videos

How to Properly Apply Nitrogen Fertilizer

Section G text

Nebraska Irrigation Water Resources Management

Section H text

Understanding Crop Water Use

Section I text | Additional Videos

Irrigation Management for Water Quality Protection

Section J text | Additional Videos

Managing Furrow Irrigation

Section K text

Irrigation Water Management for Sprinkler Irrigation

Section L text

Managing Subsurface Drip Irrigation

Section M text


Supporting Videos

Soil SamplingWater Management

Soil Testing for Site-Specific Fertilizer Management

Assembly and Placement of an Evapotranspiration Gauge

Where to Take Soil Samples

How to Assemble and Prepare Watermark Sensors

How to Soil Sample

How to Stage Crop Growth for Managing Crop Water Use

Interpretation of Soil Test Results

Installing Soil Moisture Sensors in the Field

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