Embracing The 4Rs

Since one of the busiest summer fertilizer meeting seasons on record, retailers will now be ramping up for a busy fall full of questions from their grower-customers about balancing fertility needs and managing risk. I am going to use this opportunity to enhance your awareness and request your engagement in 4R Nutrient Stewardship, a new paradigm for helping customers manage market risk while protecting the environment and promoting a more positive image for fertilizers and the ag community.

The Fertilizer Institute is growing increasingly concerned with managing a completely different kind of risk — one posed by national, state, regional and local initiatives that target growers’ use of fertilizers. For example:
•  States are being pressured by the federal government and environmental groups to develop additional regulations and pollution reduction strategies. These include reductions and, in some cases, bans on nutrient applications.
•  Assessments by the EPA have assigned agriculture responsibility for 44% of the nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) being delivered to the Chesapeake Bay.
•  The National Academy of Sciences cite nitrogen-based fertilizer application and animal feeding operation runoff as a large majority of the nutrient inputs within the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico watershed.
•  Recent USDA conservation assessment projects concluded that 60% to 80% of cultivated cropland needs more nutrient management to reduce N and P loss from fields.

A Plan Of Action

From where I sit, it is clear that a successful response to the economic, environmental and public relations challenges facing us requires the fertilizer and ag communities commit to enhanced adoption of better nutrient management practices and increased participation in the policy debate.

Here is where 4R Nutrient Stewardship fits in. 4R is an innovative approach to fertilizer best management practices to help achieve agricultural sustainability. The 4Rs imply there are four aspects to every fertilizer application and it provides an effective framework to assess whether a given crop has access to the necessary nutrients.

So what exactly constitutes a 4R nutrient management plan? Science is the foundation of any 4R plan and each should include the four “rights” of fertilizer application:
•  Source. You should work with your customers to ensure their crops receive a balanced supply of essential nutrients, considering naturally available sources and the characteristics of specific products, in plant available forms.
•  Rate. Growers must assess and make decisions based on soil nutrient supply and plant demand.
•  Time. All 4R plans require growers to assess and make decisions based on the dynamics of crop uptake, soil supply, nutrient loss risks and field operation logistics.
•  Place. Address root-soil dynamics and nutrient movement and manage spatial variability within the field to meet site-specific crop needs and limit potential losses.

As I travel the country and meet retailers, I see the misconception that a soil testing program equates to providing nutrient stewardship that is 4R consistent, when in fact, soil testing is a means to determine rate — just one of the 4Rs.

While implementation of a 4R system may involve some extra planning and steps on your part, the result is a truly sustainable farming system offering economic, environmental and social benefits.

If you are interested in learning more about how to implement a 4R plan, visit www.nutrientstewardship.com. On the Website, you will find more 4R basics as well as information on field practices. If your business already offers services that are consistent with these principles, I invite you to contact us regarding registering as a 4R consistent partner.

Raising your voice in policy discussions is important. Don’t hesitate to participate in stakeholder meetings and speak up when you encounter those who have a less than positive impression about farm practices to manage nutrients. Your customers will appreciate your advocacy and the agricultural community will be better perceived as a result of your efforts.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerThe Fertilizer Institute: New President, Renewed Energy
February 3, 2014
Chris Jahn relishes the opportunity to lead the organization through the challenging times ahead. Read More
FertilizerA New Cycle For Fertilizer Demand
January 2, 2014
Changes in the corn market could have a major impact on the crop nutrients sector in 2014, say experts. Read More
FertilizerOSHA Hammers West Fertilizer With Over $100K In Fines For April Explosion
October 10, 2013
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fining the parent company of the West Fertilizer plant, Adair Grain Inc., $118,300 for 24 violations. Read More
FertilizerTFI Appeals Chesapeake Bay TMDL Ruling
October 10, 2013
The Fertilizer Institute joined a coalition appealing a U.S. District Court ruling on the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for nitrogen and phosphorus. Read More

Trending Articles

Green Valley Ag facility
Retail FacilitiesGreen Valley Ag Adopts A.J. Sackett’s Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology At New Facility
July 8, 2014
Sackett's Precision Fertilizer Blending® Technology is making huge strides around the world. Green Valley Ag adopts the technology at its new facility to support its advancing agronomic needs. Read More
Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipMonsanto Joins Panel Of Innovators To Advance Research …
July 30, 2014
Monsanto Co. and The Climate Corp., its division, recently joined a roundtable of experts at the White House to share ideas and research approaches to help the world’s farmers manage and adapt to the impact of climate change on the global food supply. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Checkoff Produces Big ROI
July 30, 2014
Under the soy checkoff program, all U.S. soybean farmers contribute a small percentage of their gross soybean sales for research and marketing projects that maximize their profit potential. Read More
CropLife 100Learfield Sports, CHS Agree To Football-Centric, Colleg…
July 30, 2014
CHS Inc. will embark on a highly integrated collegiate sports sponsorship platform with 24 Division I universities in 19 states designed to reach the farmer-owned cooperative's rural owners and customers. Read More
LegislationUSDA Implements Key Farm Bill Crop Insurance Provision
July 30, 2014
The new Supplemental Coverage Option, available through the federal crop insurance program and set to begin with the 2015 crop year, is designed to help protect producers from yield and market volatility. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Forms New Organizational Structure For Its…
July 30, 2014
The new structure will provide more responsive internal support and will allow regional vice presidents and area managers to spend more time with customers, on talent development and on operational excellence across branches. Read More
Palmer pigweed in cotton
HerbicidesNew Training Modules On Herbicide Resistance Now Availa…
July 30, 2014
The Weed Science Society of America has announced the availability of three new education modules on herbicide resistance in weeds. Read More
HerbicidesWillowood To Market Glufosinate
July 28, 2014
Willowood USA recently announced that Federal EPA has approved its technical registration for glufosinate. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Scout For Corn Earworms In Corn
July 28, 2014
In her weekly report, University of Missouri Agronomy Specialist Jill Scheidt discusses what to look for when scouting for corn earworm. Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer, Weyerhaeuser Enter Technology License A…
July 28, 2014
The agreement brings together agricultural and forestry know-how to sustainably improve crop productivity for corn growers around the world. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Launches Global iPad App
July 28, 2014
The free AGCO Global iPad App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes Store and features the full family of RoGator self-propelled sprayers and TerraGator high-floatation spreaders. Read More
Eric SfiligojYuma Centennial Ag Supply Earns 2014 National Environme…
July 28, 2014
Colorado-based ag retailer receives top trophy in 24th annual DuPont Crop Protection/CropLife ceremony. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More