Farmer Nutrient Management Decisions: A Study of Farms in the Gully Creek Watershed in Southern Ontario
In Ontario there has been increased concern regarding harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie, phosphorus has been identified as the growth limiting agent. This research examines farmers’ individual nutrient management decisions to understand if the actual nutrient application rates are equal to the recommended NMAN rate (NE). I use two alternative nutrient rate criteria and a regression analysis to further examine nutrient application decisions. I use a unique data set from the Gully Creek watershed that contains farmers’ individual nutrient application decisions for phosphorus and nitrogen, spanning 2008 to 2013. In corn production, farmers were found to apply nitrogen below the NE, and phosphorus above the NE. In winter wheat production, farmers were found to apply both nitrogen and phosphorus above the NE. The regression analysis identified that larger farms, lower yielding fields, and the application of manure influence farmers’ decisions to apply nutrients in excess of the NE rate.