Henry Shepard knows it’s im­­portant to apply enough nitrogen so his corn fields can reach maximum yields. A few years ago, as part of a government conservation program, he sharply trimmed nitrogen applications on some of his fields near La Porte City and saw his corn yields tumble.

But Shepard is also concerned about applying too much nitrogen because the excess nutrients won’t be utilized by the corn. That wastes money and has the potential to negatively impact the environment.

"I want to use what I need so I can get the high yields that I’m after, but I sure don’t want to over-apply," Shepard said.

To find that balance, the Black Hawk County Farm Bureau member turned to a new agronomy program offered by New Century FS cooperative designed to manage nitrogen as a system, instead of going from application to application. Managing nitrogen as a system is part of what Growmark Inc. calls its M.O.M. program, ...