Farmers & Ranchers should test for nitrate
While under the stress of drought, farmers and ranchers fields could be producing nitrates in their crops. Mercer County North Dakota State University Extension Agent Craig Askim said that they now have a nitrate quick test kit in the Beulah office.
The test is free and takes approximately 10 minutes.
“We are able to test any type of crop they want tested for nitrates,” explained Askim.
When crops and plants are under the stress of drought conditions, the plants don’t function or reproduce normally because of the stress. This causes the nitrates to build up in the plant. However, Askim said the common myth of how nitrates are created has to do with previous cropping history and how the field was fertilized. The common myth is if the field was heavily fertilized, nitrates will be higher. Askim said this is not the case because of the lack of science behind it.
Currently five fields have been tested around the county -- three wheat fields and two of barley. Both barley fields tested negative for nitrates; however, two of the three wheat fields were positive. This test is only able to determine whether nitrates are present. It will not determine how high the nitrate content is.