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Adapt-N for Agriculture

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Adapt-N is a precision nitrogen management that helps farmers determine how much nitrogen fertilizer to apply to corn crops. Without data or tools to help them, farmers rely on previous practices and general guidelines to inform nitrogen fertilizer management. Farmers need tools to help them because excessive nitrogen applications cannot be detected by the naked eye. If a corn crop is under-fertilized, its leaves will be brown. However, if the corn crop has just the right amount of fertilizer or way too much fertilizer, its leaves will be green regardless of additional applications. Fertilizer is very expensive, as is the equipment required to apply it, so farmers who apply more than is necessary end up wasting money. There are a lot of factors that influence proper nitrogen management including temperature, precipitation and soil types. For these reasons farmers need tools that use soil information and local weather data, to help them determine how much nitrogen fertilizer to apply.

AdaptN Infographic

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“I’m a corn and soybean farmer from south Cayuga County, New York. I raise about a thousand acres of corn and 400 acres of soybeans every year, depending on the rotations of the fields. The cost savings to us is the biggest benefit. The operation goes faster because you can go farther without having to refill the tank on the applicator, that’s another benefit... the biggest benefit is the cost benefit of using less nitrogen.” —farmer Robert Donald on using Adapt-N

Cornell University initially developed Adapt-N with support from the Northeast Regional Climate Center. Adapt-N was then further developed and brought to market by Agronomic Technology Corporation. In addition to soil-specific data, Adapt-N uses temperature and precipitation data from NCEI’s Global Historical Climatology Network Daily (GHCN-D) dataset to determine the right amount of nitrogen that farmers should apply to their fields. In this way, Adapt-N saves corn growers money on reduced nitrogen inputs, while minimizing negative environmental impacts, such as nitrogen leaching into waterways.


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Global Historical Climagology Network Daily (GHCN-D) station: In situ, or land-based stations such as this one, record daily observations of temperature and precipitation data that is plugged into Adapt-N.

In some years corn is nitrogen deficient, while in another year the same amount of nitrogen is sufficient