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Research helps farmers pinpoint high- and low-yield fields, leads to better use of fertilizer

Farmers can't predict their annual corn harvest with certainty, but with the help of new research, they can now pinpoint parts of their fields that consistently produce good or bad yields. The information will save farmers time and money, and solve one of the most widespread problems facing crop-producing regions: nitrogen loss to the environment. Researchers have discovered that almost all fields have areas with consistently low or high yields. Much of the fertilizer added to low-yield areas goes unused by crops and is lost to the environment. The research shows that lost nitrogen from 10 Midwest states totals almost U.S. $1 billion in wasted fertilizer. By assessing how much money corn belt farmers spend on fertilizer that goes unused by crops, the researchers concluded that the best outcome -- for farmers and the environment -- is to avoid farming the underperforming areas of each field

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