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Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE)

Kansas Fertilizer Research Fund

Fertilizer Recommendations from K-State

Soil Test Interpretations and Fertilizer Recommendations in Kansas (January 2024)

2023 Update: Fertilizer Recommendations (interactive Excel workbook)


Creating a state fertilizer research fund

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has established a "Fertilizer Tonnage Fee" which collects a set amount of money per ton of fertilizer sold or distributed for use in Kansas. Of this amount, $0.04/ton is transferred to Kansas State University for fertilizer-related research.

An excellent primer for learning more about the fund is this recent interview on Agriculture Today. It features KCARE Director Susan Metzger and Professor Dorivar Ruiz-Diaz, who discuss the history of the fund as well as how it is leveraged for important research. Discussion about the Fertilizer Research Fund begins at 00:12:05.


Establishing the fertilizer research fund

The fund was established to conduct research on manufactured and natural fertilizers. Projects supported by the fund generally address one or more of the following issues:
  • efficient methods of application (including various forms of plant nutrients and rates, timing, and methods of application)
  • storage and handling (including environmental and human health risks associated with storage and handling and measures to decrease those risks)
  • fertilizers' effect upon environmental quality, with special attention to protecting air quality and the quality of both surface and ground water resources of the state
  • use efficiency, including impacts on crop production, economics, and profitability
  • safety, including risks associated with applicator exposure and measures to reduce risk, onsite or offsite human health impacts, and safe handling procedures

Example Projects

Effectiveness of short-term poultry litter storage options for protecting Kansas water quality

Poultry litter can provide a significant and important supply of nutrients for crop production. When southeast Kansas experienced an influx of poultry litter being transported as fertilizer, there was a growing concern that the increased use and storage was contributing to water quality problems. At that time, there were no existing regulations or recommendations for poultry litter storage. 

This project worked to identify options for low-cost runoff containment for short-term, in-field poultry litter storage. Experts also evaluated the effectiveness of these storage sites for reducing runoff.

Best nutrient and crop production management practices for studying nutrient dynamics under high-yielding sorghum

This project aimed to provide Kansas growers with clear information about the effects of fertilizer applications and their interaction with diverse management practices for sorghum in different environments. The team worked to identify management factors contributing to high yields and to investigate nutrient uptake requirements under different environments. The project also updated the available information related to the dry mass, nutrient uptake, and nutrient partitioning for modern sorghum hybrids under different environments and crop production practices.

Genetic Effects on Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat

The research team began this project with the idea that improving nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) simultaneously increases profits for farmers while reducing the environmental impact of food production. The goal of this research was to improve the efficiency of nitrogen fertilizer inputs in winter wheat production systems by enhancing the understanding of the variability of NUE across winter wheat varieties. This research worked to determine the NUE of 30 different hard-red winter wheat varieties, to characterize nitrogen uptake and utilization parameters related to NUE in hard-red winter wheat varieties, and to determine the relationship between yield gains and NUE in hard-red winter wheat. 


What does "fertilizer" mean?

For this research fund, the word "fertilizer" is interpreted to include organic and inorganic sources of plant nutrients – manufactured or natural. This can include:

  • plant materials
  • crop residues
  • livestock manure
  • compost
  • anhydrous ammonia
  • urea
  • ammonium nitrate
  • diammonium phosphate,
  • muriate of potash
  • and others!

Want to learn more about our fertilizer research projects?

We're happy to help! If you are interested in past or present research supported by the Kansas Fertilizer Research Fund, contact KCARE.