Commercial Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Grant Program

​​​Coming Fall 2022​​​​​​​​

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The commercial nitrogen optimization pilot grant program (NOPP) supports on-farm research projects that use nitrogen in a manner that will sustain soil fertility and crop production while reducing nitrogen loss to the atmosphere, groundwater, and surface water.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) adopted emergency rule ss. ATCP 52.08 through 52.14, relating to creating a commercial nitrogen optimization pilot program.

The emergency rule​ was approved by the Governor on June 22, 2022.​

Introduction to Program​​

DATCP will provide funding to agricultural producers that focus on commercial nitrogen optimization activities through the Nitrogen Optimization Pilot Program (NOPP).

Program Goal: Agricultural producers will collaborate with University of Wisconsin System (UWS) scientists to conduct research projects that enhance the understanding of and refine new methods that optimizes nitrogen applied to agricultural fields and decreases nitrogen loss to atmosphere, groundwater, and surface water.


NOPP is designed to encourage agricultural producers to develop innovative approaches to optimize the application of commercial nitrogen for a duration of at least two growing seasons. The producers must collaborate with a UWS institution, which will monitor the grant project on-site. The total award to an applicant cannot exceed $50,000. Of that amount, up to 20% may be awarded to the UWS institution.

Under 92.14(1​6), Stats., grant recipients must meet all of the following eligibility requirements to be considered for funding:

  • Project must include two growing seasons.
  • Agricultural producers must collaborate with an UWS institution for project monitoring.
  • UWS institution should monitor the grant project on-site. No more than 20% of the grant award may be distributed to the UWS collaborator.
  • Priority will be given to innovative projects not currently funded through state or federal programs.
  • Priority will be given for longer-term projects.

Note: An agricultural producer and the University of Wisconsin System institution collaborating with the agricultural producer in implementing a project under this subsection may not be held civilly liable and may not be subject to any remedial action or other administrative or enforcement action from the department or the department of natural resources for any discharge of environmental pollution from the land involved in the project, if the actions were taken in good faith by the agricultural producer and the institution and conformed to the project specification that were proposed to the department in an application for a grant. (s. 92.14(16)(f), Wis. Stats)​

Grant Purposes and Research Designs

The rule allows DATCP to award grants for projects that focus on commercial nitrogen optimization through:

  1. Nitrogen Rate On-Farm Research, either technology-based or a small plot design. The purpose of this option is to collect information on varying rates of N application in controlled designs.
  2. Management interactions with nitrogen rate variability. The purpose of this option is to compare different management practices and the impact of different nitrogen rates.

Data Collection

The following measurements will be collected for every study (collected and provided by the applicant):

Background information:

  • Routine soil analysis (pH, OM, P and K)
  • Soil texture – directly measured or from Soil Survey
  • Soil test nitrate (0-12 and 12-24 inches), collected prior to N application
  • Management history (a survey will be provided)
  • Previous year management (a survey will be provided)
  • Current year management (a survey will be provided)
  • Weather data for the growing season (daily highs, daily lows, daily rainfall)
  • Soil map from NRCS Web Soil Survey, including GPS coordinates
  • Economic data (e.g. unit cost of fertilizer, price per bushel, etc.) (a survey will be provided)​

In-season data collection on all treatment plots:

  • Crop yield
  • Crop quality (if applicable)
  • Plant tissue testing (if applicable)
  • In-season soil testing (if applicable)
  • Provide all electronic data, including N application maps and yield monitor data​