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N deficient wheat, Havre, 1996. Image by R. Engel

The Soil Fertility/Nutrient Management program at MSU focuses on the processes that affect nutrient cycling so that they can be managed more sustainably. Soil testing can detect low nutrient levels that lead to possible crop nutrient deficiencies. In addition, soil testing allows for timely adjustments in fertilizer applications, reducing input costs. Understanding the economics of fertilizing, yield goals, and crop quality, along with soil fertility management can assist the producer in meeting profit goals. Currently, the effects of cropping systems and tillage systems on nitrogen and phosphorus availability are being investigated. Research conducted at MSU, the Agricultural Research Centers, and throughout the region, are synthesized into fact sheets, modules, and presentations geared toward extension agents, crop advisers, farmers, ranchers, and/or homeowners. If you have any questions on the Soil Fertility Extension program or materials contained in this web site, contact Dr. Clain Jones.

SEARCH Clain's websites


  • Clain visits with Brent Roeder, Teton County Extension, about drought effects on forage nitrates. Listen to the interview.
  • 2 new Fertilizer Fact sheets: 1) Mixed Cover Crop and N Rate Effects on Wheat Yield and Protein after 6 Years (pdf), and 2) Micronutrient Fertilizer Application to Increase Pea Yield and Improve Nutritional Quality (pdf).
  • Upcoming presentations by Clain: none in the near future.
  • What have fires done to the nutrients in the soil? A brief article explains (pdf). A new Soil Scoop discusses fire and drought effects on soil nutrient management (pdf).
  • A new Soil Scoop on nitrate leaching presents crop and fertilizer management options to minimize ground water contamination and fertilizer N loss to leaching (pdf). It summarizes information in the revised MontGuide Crop and Fertilizer Management Practices to Minimize Nitrate Leaching and a new Extension bulletin Minimizing Nitrate leaching from Cropland. The information is also available as a very short popular press article (pdf).

Current Research

Cover Crop Cocktails (project website)

Nitrate Leaching (project website)

Volatilization Loss from N Fertilizers (more information)