YORK - The future of all farmers in the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will require pre-plant nitrification inhibitors if a proposal passed by the board becomes part of the NRD district’s rules.

First, however, a public hearing will be held on this and other Rule 5 changes, after which the matter will again be taken up by the board in consideration of final passage.

The problem of nitrate contamination of groundwater is a complex one that will be explained in a future, in-depth report explaining how the area’s present nitrate situation in the groundwater evolved over time.

In simple terms ag producers located anywhere within the NRD boundary will, if the measure is ultimately passed in present form, be required to apply nitrification inhibitors in all pre-plant nitrogen fertilizer applications with the lone exception of spring anhydrous.

The reason is that anhydrous ammonia releases its nitrogen much differently than liquid or granular products which can immediately release up to 25 percent of their nitrogen long before seeds are in the ground.

In addition a limit of 120 pounds of nitrogen per acre pre-plant was included in the motion.

NRD Water Manager Marie Krausnick noted the 120 pound total can be a combination of nitrogen forms - liquid, granular or anhydrous - in not-to-exceed 120 pound aggregate.

If the Rule 5 changes are ultimately adopted exactly as passed by the board Thursday, unlike in the past producers will be required to turn in their nitrate reports before they apply nitrogen in any form … fall or spring.

Dryland acres are exempt entirely and reporting requirements on those farms are suspended in the proposal approved Thursday, said Krausnick, explaining, “Irrigated agriculture has been proven to be the problem” in nitrate contamination. Nitrates, she said, citing a recent VADOSE deep soil study completed in the Hastings area, clearly move faster through irrigation” than is the case on dryland ground.

When the roll was called by Chairman Roger Houdersheldt, who abstained, directors Larry Moore, Gary Eberle, Doug Bruns, Paul Bethune, Ronda Rich, David Robotham, Doug Dickinson, Paul Weiss and Linda Luebbe voted in favor of moving the proposed Rule 5 changes to public hearing.

Voting ‘no’ were directors Lynn Yates, Bill Stahly, Jeff Bohaty, Bill Kuehner and John Miller.

Commissioner Michael Nuss passed and thus did not record a vote either way. Merlin Volkmer was absent.

Date for the public hearing, most likely at a location other than the NRD board room which has limited space, will be announced as soon as it is selected.

Sign up for York News Times Email Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.