Nitrogen fertilizer pays big dividends when applied to grass fields or pastures, reminds George Rehm, University of Minnesota soil scientist.

Adequate nitrogen rates often double or triple grass production, says Rehm. He suggests applying a total of 120 lbs/acre when yields of 4 tons/acre or more are expected, such as under rotational grazing or when two hay cuttings are taken. For lower-management situations, he recommends 60-80 lbs/acre.

"The economic value of nitrogen fertilizer is easy to measure when the grass is sold for hay," says Rehm. "For pastures there is a general rule of thumb that 1 lb of nitrogen per acre will produce a pound of added gain per acre."

Don’t forget about phosphorus and potassium, he adds. A soil test will reveal whether those nutrients are needed.