Soil Science

Our soils program focuses on managing nutrients to optimize production and minimize negative impacts on water quality. Our applied research investigates nutrient management (both fertilizer and manure), tillage systems, and cropping systems as well as the economic and environmental side effects of these practices.


Much of this research has led to a series of best management practice (BMP) bulletins for nitrogen and tillage management in Minnesota. The bulk of our research has been conducted on Nicollet and Webster clay loam soils at the SROC. However, we’ve also conducted field trials on farmers’ field in 21 southern Minnesota counties to relate to the varying soils and climate conditions. 

Our research projects are conducted in conjunction with faculty members in the University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate and the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics. We also work closely with the Minnesota Corn Grower’s Association and the Agricultural Fertilizer Research and Education Council (AFREC) of Minnesota.

Nutrient Management

The primary focus of our nutrient management research is nitrogen management in corn. Other projects focus on phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur management. We use the data from these projects in collaboration with U of M state soil fertility specialists to improve fertilizer recommendations in Minnesota and throughout the North Central Region. 2015 nutrient management projects included: 


  • Fall and Spring Application of Various N Sources
  • Effects of Novel Nitrification Inhibitor on Corn Nitrogen Response
  • Evaluation of Variable Rate Nitrogen Technologies for Corn in Minnesota
  • Rate and Timing of Spring N for Corn in Southeast Minnesota


  • Corn Response to Soil Test Phosphorus
  • AFREC Long-term P Study
  • Variable Rate Starter Study


  • Potassium Fertilization of Corn and Soybean
  • Potassium Fertilization of Alfalfa-Corn-Soybean Cropping Systems

Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management

  • Global Maize
  • Effects of MESZ Placement and Time of Application in Corn

Water Quality

Our water quality research investigates ways to minimize nitrate losses to the environment in tile drainage and water. Studies focus on minimizing the negative impacts agricultural production can have on water quality. 2015 water quality projects included:

  • Nitrate Loss to Tile Drainage Water as Affected by N Source, Time of Application and Nitrification Inhibitors

Faculty and Staff