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

Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applications?
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
Town & Country Co-op Smithville, OH 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certified
Crop InputsFitting the 4Rs into Nutrient Cycle Stewardship
July 12, 2017
The farm nutrient cycle is now a central focus of sustainable development discussions, according to Tom Bruulsema, International Plant Nutrition Read More
Trending Articles
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Redbanded-stinkbug-on-soybean-Photo-credit-Thomas-County-Ag
Crop InputsExperts: Mild Winter, Early Planting Will Increase Soybean Insect Threat
June 12, 2017
Higher than average temperatures this past winter affected much of the nation, especially the South and Midwest. The National Centers Read More
Latest News
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsCreate a ‘No-Mite Zone’ Around Your Fields
July 13, 2017
Explosive. That’s one way to describe the speed at which mite infestations in crops can develop under the right conditions. Read More
ABM sign
Crop InputsAdvanced Biological Marketing Awarded Competitive Grant…
July 13, 2017
Advanced Biological Marketing (ABM) has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to conduct Read More