Development of Field Mobile Soil Nitrate Sensor Technology [E2016-05]

Project Description: 

There is an enormous need to improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn production.  The grant enables the development of soil nitrate sensor technology to facilitate real-time modulation of fertilizer rates during late spring side-dress applications of nitrogen fertilizer. On-the-go real-time soil nitrate sensing is made possible now for the first time through this research effort. 

If fully successful, this technology will improve nitrogen use efficiency in corn production by 10 to 50 percent, depending on soil type, climate, and management practices.  This technology will not solve the nitrogen problem by itself, but it is a new tool in a portfolio of technology and management practices which are being developed to improve nitrogen use efficiency and reduce the negative environmental impacts of nitrogen fertilizers.  

Project ID: 
Years of Grant Project: 
1 year
Total Grant Amount: 
Project Start: 
Lead Investigator: 
David Laird
Lead Investigator Bio: 

David Laird received his Ph.D. degree in agronomy from Iowa State University in 1987.  He joined the USDA-ARS as a research scientist in 1988, spending three years with the Soil and Water Management Unit in St. Paul, Minnesota, before joining the staff of the National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Ames, in 1991, where he served as both a research scientist and a lead scientist. He accepted a position as a professor in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University in 2010.  Over the years he has served as associate editor for both Soil Science Society of America Journal and Clays and Clay Minerals, was special publications editor for the Clay Minerals Society, chair of the soil chemistry division of the Soil Science Society of America, and president and vice-president of the Clay Minerals Society.

Dr. Laird is a Fellow in both the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America.  He has won numerous awards for his research and service contributions.  Dr. Laird is the author or co-author of 93 refereed journal articles, 13 book chapters and has helped edited one book and special editions of the Journal of Environmental Quality and Applied Clay Science.  His research articles have been cited over 7500 times by his peers and he has an h-index of 43 on Google Scholar.  Research interests include the use of the biochar co-products of biomass pyrolysis as a soil amendment and its impact on soil quality, nutrient leaching, and carbon sequestration.  Other research interests include the chemical, mineralogical, and surface properties of soil clays, interactions of pesticides and other organic compounds with clays, the nature of soil humic substances, clay-humic interactions, and the development of field-mobile soil sensing technologies for mapping soil properties.

Co Investigators: 

Natalia Rogovska, ISU Department of Agronomy

Chein-Ping Chiou, ISU Department of Aerospace Engineery

Leonard Bond, ISU Center for Nondestructive Evaluation