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.


Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

FertilizerYara Tampa Ammonia Terminal Garners ResponsibleAg Honors
November 25, 2015
Yara has received its first ResponsibleAg Certification for its Tampa, FL, Ammonia terminal location. This achievement demonstrates Yara’s commitment to Read More
Tiger Sul Crop Nutrient Calculator
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launches New Nutrient Calculator App
November 12, 2015
H.J. Baker, a global agriculture firm, has launched a new agronomic nutrient calculator app. This innovative and powerful tool will Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Hosting Chinese Delegation
November 12, 2015
International Agricultural firm, H.J. Baker, is hosting a delegation from Beijing Xinhefeng Agrochemicals Co., Ltd. (XHF), a leading distributor of Read More
corn field
FertilizerWest Central Distribution Launches Levesol DFC
November 5, 2015
Levesol DFC, a dry fertilizer compatible version, joins the original Levesol as another option for growers to maximize the potential Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100United Cooperative Acquires Four ADM Wisconsin Facilities
November 12, 2015
United Cooperative, based out of Beaver Dam, WI, recently acquired four grain and agronomy locations from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Car Makes NASCAR Xfinity Series
October 29, 2015
BRANDT will join JR Motorsports with driver, Justin Allgaier, for the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity (NXS) Series season. Allgaier will pilot Read More
CHS Building exterior
CropLife 100CHS Leaders Help Shape Succession Report
October 22, 2015
Succession planning was listed as a main concern of cooperative leaders at this summer’s 15 regional CHS owner town hall Read More
Fall Harvest
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases Eight Regional Seed Companies
October 12, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has announced the purchase of eight regional seed companies to advance its seed business. Pinnacle has acquired: Read More
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Opens Dry Fertilizer Storage And Blending Facility In Washington
October 8, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co., ranked No. 4 on the CropLife 100, has constructed and opened a 22,000-ton dry fertilizer storage and blending Read More
Latest News
HerbicidesBREAKING: EPA Pulls Registration On Dow’s Enlist …
November 25, 2015
EPA on Wednesday withdrew approval of a controversial new weed killer to be used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, Read More
FertilizerYara Tampa Ammonia Terminal Garners ResponsibleAg Honor…
November 25, 2015
Yara has received its first ResponsibleAg Certification for its Tampa, FL, Ammonia terminal location. This achievement demonstrates Yara’s commitment to Read More
ManagementReviewing The Top Ag Stories For 2015
November 24, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss the most noteworthy events from this past year in agriculture. Read More
EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Sc…
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Radish cover crop
StewardshipCover Crops Guide Helps Growers Improve Water Quality
November 23, 2015
A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won Read More
Crop InputsThe Andersons’ Products Receive California Organi…
November 23, 2015
The Plant Nutrient Group of The Andersons, Inc. announced today that its Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG products are Read More
Eric SfiligojNew European Study Seems To Support Glyphosate Safety
November 23, 2015
Looking at any international news over the past few years, it might seem as if the European Union (EU) is Read More
Toggle Biostimulant corn roots
Crop InputsTwo New Biostimulants Added To United Suppliers’ …
November 20, 2015
Winfield US announces the launch of two new products in the United Suppliers portfolio for the 2016 crop season, Optify Read More
StewardshipNRDC Report: Cover Crops Contain Vast Benefits
November 19, 2015
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a Read More
Fall Harvest
Seed/BiotechArysta Launches New Seed Protectant
November 19, 2015
As spring wheat growers begin planning for a strong start to their season, Arysta LifeScience North America announces RANCONA V Read More
Crop InputsInocucor Receives U.S. Patent For Microbials
November 19, 2015
Inocucor Technologies Inc., the Montreal-based agriculture biotech company, was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Read More
ManagementSyngenta Rumors and ARA 2015 Preview
November 19, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj looks at the latest rumors involving Syngenta selling its crop protection business and talks about events Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Finalists For Operator Of The Year Honor
November 19, 2015
AGCO Corp. has announced the four top operators chosen as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual Operator of the Year program, Read More
High Plains Aquifer
StewardshipStudy: High Plains Aquifer Overall Usage In Decline
November 18, 2015
A new Kansas State University study finds that the over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer’s groundwater beyond the aquifer’s recharge Read More
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
FungicidesArysta Launches New Corn And Soybean Fungicide
November 17, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America has recently launched ZOLERA FX Fungicide. The highly systemic, powerful fungicide delivers broad-spectrum disease control with Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance: Microbials Targeted For 250-500 million…
November 17, 2015
Monsanto and Novozymes have announced a new 2025 acreage target that will guide the companies’ microbials business for the next Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Still Being Eyed For China Takeover
November 16, 2015
China National Chemical Corp. approached sovereign wealth funds including China Investment Corp. to help pay for a potential acquisition of Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojCooperative Consolidation Continues
November 16, 2015
As I put this enewsletter column together, we’ve just put the finishing touches on our magazine’s annual CropLife 100 report. Read More