Lower Loup NRD To Take Part In Groundwater Nitrate Project

The Lower Loup Natural Resources District Board of Directors has approved the NRD’s participation in a research project on ways to manage fertilizer use to avoid high groundwater nitrate levels.  The SENSE (Sensors for Efficient Nitrogen Use and Stewardship of the Environment) Project will be a joint project of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nebraska Corn Board, and five Natural Resources Districts.

The Lower Loup NRD’s share of the costs of the project will be $22,500 annually over three years.  Other NRDs participating in the project are the Central Platte, Upper Big Blue, Lower Plate North, and Lower Platte South.

UNL Extension Soils Specialist Richard Ferguson told the LLNRD Board that crop canopy sensors will be used to collect data for better fertilizer use by the crop.  He said the sensors are attached to an applicator boom and quantify the chlorophyll in the plants by measuring light reflection.  Those measurements will then be used to determine the crops fertilizer needs.

Lower Loup NRD General Manager said the project will provide significant data for use in managing groundwater nitrate levels.  He said that would be of specific use in the NRD’s lone Phase III Groundwater Quality Management Area.   Area 28 is a strip of land in the NRD, south of the Loup River, from southeast of Palmer to south of Columbus.  The nitrate levels in Area 28 are above the maximum allowable level of 10 parts per million and continue to trend upward.

To learn more about Project SENSE, click here.