Published Oct 12, 2023

Sign-ups are now open for PFI program that lowers the risk of cutting nitrogen

By Elizabeth Wilhelm
Corn farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota are eligible to apply

Elizabeth Wilhelm | Media Relations Coordinator | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa (Oct. 12, 2023) — Farmers in six Midwestern states who want to save on their next nitrogen bill can now sign up for a Practical Farmers of Iowa program designed to lower the risk of cutting the amount of nitrogen they apply.

Through PFI’s N Rate Risk Protection Program, enrolled farmers who experience a yield loss after reducing their nitrogen rate will receive a per acre payment from PFI to help offset that loss. The program is open to conventional corn farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and southeastern South Dakota. Farmers who are new to cutting inputs and those who’ve reduced nitrogen rates previously are both eligible to apply.

“With input costs rising, farmers might want to reduce the size of that bill,” says Chelsea Ferrie, PFI’s field crops viability coordinator. “This program is perfect for farmers who have been thinking about reducing their nitrogen but are worried about the potential risk. We are excited to offer this program and help protect farmers’ bottom line.”

Nitrogen is an essential crop nutrient. But overuse can lead to excess nitrate in the soil that ends up leaching out and polluting waterways, potentially harming people, wildlife and aquatic ecosystems.

By making it less financially risky for farmers, the N Rate Risk Protection Program lets farmers experiment with lower nitrogen rates while helping them save money and enhance their land stewardship.

“A big question for many farmers is, ‘Am I overapplying fertilizer?’” Chelsea says. “This program lets farmers explore that question by taking a deeper look at their application rates to find a rate that is best for their system and the environment.”

Program participants work with a PFI agronomist to figure out the right nitrogen reduction rate for their farm but must agree to cut their rate by at least 20 pounds per acre. If they experience a yield drop below 95% of their non adjusted APH, the program will pay $35 per acre to help make up the difference.

To be eligible for the program, farmers must:

  • Raise corn in 2024
  • Be willing to reduce nitrogen by at least 20 pounds per acre
  • Manage corn conventionally; certified organic acres are not eligible
  • Farm in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska or southeastern South Dakota

Additionally, acres cannot overlap with any privately funded cost-share program, such as a carbon market, and must already be insured with Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Revenue or Yield Protection policy.

Enrollment is now open and will close April 30, 2024. Full details and the application form are available at

For questions, to check eligibility or for help getting signed up, contact Chelsea Ferrie at (515) 232-5661 or, or visit


About Practical Farmers: Practical Farmers of Iowa is a nonprofit with more than 6,000 members that equips farmers to build resilient farms and communities. We create learning opportunities via farmer-led events, on-farm research and educational content through our robust network of farmers. We also provide funding and technical assistance to help farmers adopt regenerative farming practices and grow farm businesses. Our vision is an Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. To learn more, visit