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Nitrogen application innovation nets 2021 OSCIA legacy award

March 15, 2021  By Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

David and Roger Buurma’s patience and ingenuity in perfecting a low-cost solution for side-dressing nitrogen in corn has won them the 2021 Don Hill Legacy Award.

The Lambton County grain farmers have perfected an easy-to-use rubber hose dropping system that enables efficient, accurate nitrogen delivery into a taller corn canopy using the 120-foot boom on their self-propelled sprayer.

The award is given annually by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) to recognize a recipient who has applied on-farm innovation and ingenuity to effectively address an identified environmental risk associated with soil, water, air or biodiversity on their farm.


The details

The Buurmas picked up on work their father had started with streaming UAN (urea ammonium nitrate) 28 per cent onto corn using a self-propelled sprayer, after having had good results with the technique in his wheat crop. They needed a solution to avoid crop damage from the liquid fertilizer splashing onto the plants and to minimize nitrogen loss into the atmosphere through volatilization.

They mounted rubber hosing onto the spray nozzles of their 120-ft. boom sprayer and dragged these over the soil into taller corn. The sprayer’s GPS unit ensures accuracy and, at a travel speed of five to eight miles per hour, applications can be finished quickly and precisely.

Travelling up and down fewer rows in each field at a faster speed using the sprayer means they’re finishing up their nitrogen application about 75 per cent faster, compared to using the standard, pull-type side-dress equipment. The total cost of their sprayer retrofit was approximately $400.

The Don Hill Award, which comes with a $1,000 cash prize, was established in 2019 in memory of past OSCIA president Don Hill. Hill was passionate about the Environmental Farm Plan and finding simple yet creative solutions to environmental challenges faced on the farm.

Do you have an ingenious farm-built solution to an environmental challenge? The submission deadline for the next Don Hill Legacy Award is December 1, 2021. Visit to learn more.


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