Nitrogen application innovation wins award


David and Roger Buurma’s ingenuity in developing 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 developed 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 to address an identified environmental risk associated with soil, water, air, or biodiversity on their farm.

“This innovation reflects the spirit of the Don Hill Legacy Award — it’s a simple, low-cost and effective solution to an environmental challenge on the farm,” says OSCIA President Chad Anderson.

The Buurmas mounted rubber hosing onto the spray nozzles of their 120-foot 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 mph, so applications can be finished quickly and precisely.

Travelling up and down fewer rows in each field at a faster speed using their sprayer means they’re finishing up their nitrogen application about 75 per cent faster compared to 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.