4R Research Fund Awards First Grants

The 4R Research Fund has awarded $273,500 in grants for five research proposals aimed at identifying the current state of knowledge and existing research gaps regarding fertilizer best management practices. The Fund, supported by the fertilizer industry and other stakeholders, is a science-based research initiative aimed at improving agricultural sustainability by expanding knowledge of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place).

With guidance from an industry and academic technical advisory group, the fund’s management committee selected the following five proposals:

An analysis of 4R Nutrient Stewardship implementation on drained land was awarded to a project partnership between The Conservation Fund and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

A meta-analysis of nitrogen losses and 4R Nutrient Stewardship in U.S. corn-based systems was awarded to researchers at Duke University

A meta-analysis of phosphorus fertilizer placement and tillage interactions for corn and soybeans in the U.S. was awarded to researchers at Kansas State University

An assessment of the effects of conservation practices and fertilizer application methods on nitrogen and phosphorus loss from farm fields was awarded to a project partnership between the University of Toledo and USDA ARS

A meta-analysis of enhanced efficiency fertilizers in corn systems in the Midwest was awarded to researchers at Southern Illinois University

These projects are scheduled to be finished within a nine-to-12 month time frame. When complete, details from the analyses will be made available for review by all interested stakeholders.

Understanding research gaps is an initial priority of the 4R Research Fund. To ensure future funding is directed at addressing unmet research needs, the first 4R Research Fund request for proposals (RFP) solicited literature reviews of topics related to 4R Nutrient Stewardship on a national, regional, or cropping system basis utilizing meta‐analyses. A meta-analysis is a method of analyzing the results of a systematic literature review that allows quantitative estimation of effect size and uncertainty.

“Recognizing knowledge gaps helps to avoid needless and costly duplication of previous research and helps to inform industry, academia, and agencies of areas that need to be addressed with future research,” said International Plant Nutrition Institute President Dr. Terry Roberts. “These meta-analyses will help position the 4R Research Fund to provide resources to projects that will expand knowledge of 4R-related practices.”

“Our goal is to further engage with other funding organizations to help fill those knowledge gaps, leading to an enhanced scope and breadth of research available on 4R Nutrient Stewardship,” said The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn. “We are grateful for the industry’s contribution to this effort and look forward to working with multiple stakeholders to pave the way for new research initiatives to expand the use of fertilizer best management practices.”

Created in 2013, by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), the Fund is providing resources for a multi-year research effort aimed at measuring and evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The fund supports U.S. and Canadian projects in partnership with land-grant universities, watershed stakeholders and government agencies, as well as through industry initiatives. Last year, the North American fertilizer industry pledged $7 million to fund this multi-year research effort.

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