Source Water Protection Activity Guide

Quick Select

Use any of the following drop-down menus to navigate through the guide. Choosing a potential contaminant source category from the drop-down menu will narrow your potential contaminant source choices. Choosing a protection activity category from the drop-down menu will narrow your protection activity choices.

Contaminant Type

Potential Contaminant Source Category Potential Contaminant Source

Protection Activity Category Protection Activity

Nutrient Management: Fertilizer Application Methods

Protection Activity: Best Management Practices

Nutrient management includes managing the amount, source, placement, form, and timing of nutrient and soil amendment applications. Nutrient management practices can minimize the potential for environmental damage including agricultural nonpoint source pollution of surface and ground water sources; maintain or improve the physical, chemical, or biological condition of soil; prevent or reduce excess nutrient concentrations in the soil; properly use all sources of organic material, including animal waste, as a plant nutrient source; and save money.

Fertilizer application methods should be selected according to soil type, crop, weather conditions, slope, and irrigation practices. Inspect and calibrate fertilizer application equipment regularly and as recommended. Examples of application methods include banding, pop-up, broadcast, topdress, and sidedress applications. See the University of Idaho Fertilizer Guidelines for more information, or contact your local extension office.

Band Fertilizer Application
Band application involves placing fertilizer in a band, often two inches to the side of and two inches down from the seed, during planting. Since band application is done during planting, it is also referred to as a starter application. The band can safely supply the young plants with nutrients without damaging the tender roots.

Pop-up Fertilizer Application
Pop-up fertilizer is placed with the seed (as opposed to near the seed) during planting. The fertilizer supplies early season nutrients like starter fertilizers (see band application). 

Broadcast Fertilizer Application
Broadcast fertilizer application involves uniformly applying fertilizers or other beneficial micronutrients over the soil surface before planting. After broadcasting, tilling the soil will incorporate the nutrients and reduce losses due to volatilization and denitrification. Broadcast fertilizing is not beneficial with immobile nutrients such as phosphorus that need to be placed closer to the root zone. 

Topdress Fertilizer Application
Topdressing involves applying fertilizers, usually nitrogen, over the soil and plant surface after planting.  

Sidedress Fertilizer Application
Sidedress application involves applying fertilizer between crop rows. Certain tests can help determine whether a sidedress application will be beneficial to the crop. Sidedressing is not effective for immobile nutrients such as phosphorous. 

Resources for this Protection Activity:

Related Sources: