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
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
Aerial view of the West Fertilizer explosion site
FertilizerFertilizer Companies Blame City For West, TX, Explosion
August 6, 2014
El Dorado Chemical Co. and CF Industries contend the city failed to properly train the first responders and had insufficient protocols in place to battle the April 17, 2013, blaze at West Fertilizer Co. that triggered the explosion. Read More
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
Top 100 Articles
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Match Made In Deviation
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
Winter Wheat
CropLife 100South Dakota Co-op Member Owners Vote No On Unification
June 26, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have announced that member-owners have voted Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
Latest News
Chesapeake Bay
ManagementChesapeake Bay Clean-Up Gets Renewed Attention
July 2, 2015
The Chesapeake Bay has been called one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. It’s also one of Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
ManagementBulk Pesticide Compliance: Top 10 Areas Of Improvement …
July 1, 2015
  In honor of the 33-year run of David Letterman’s Late Show, the American Agronomic Stewardship Alliance (AASA) is happy Read More
Industry NewsArysta North America Hires Midwest Sales Manager
July 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the hiring of Brian Battles as the Senior Technical Sales Manager for the Midwest Read More
Farmer on tablet
Eric SfiligojThe Never-Ending Battle Against Modern Agriculture
July 1, 2015
In the world of comic books, the character of Superman often refers to the fight to save the world as Read More
Retail FacilitiesBuilding Up Ag Retail
July 1, 2015
In the oftentimes unpredictable world we live in, it’s nice to know some things can be reliably countered on to Read More
Retail FacilitiesMaple River Grain And Agronomy Phases In Site Developme…
July 1, 2015
Marcus Construction helped Maple River Grain and Agronomy in Casselton, ND, with the design-build of its dry fertilizer, liquid chemical/seed Read More
Retail FacilitiesA&B Welding Builds A New Liquid Terminal Hub For Br…
July 1, 2015
To build its new hub facility, Briggs Crop Nutrients enlisted the help of A&B Welding. The result, an efficient facility Read More
Edon Farmers Co-op
Retail FacilitiesNew Marcus Facility At Edon Farmers Co-op Provides More…
July 1, 2015
Edon Farmers Co-Op in Edon, OH, needed a new facility to consolidate outdated locations. Marcus Construction was able to design Read More
Retail FacilitiesKinder Morgan Expands Its Storage With A New Dome Barre…
July 1, 2015
Kinder Morgan wanted additional covered storage at its Dakota Bulk Terminal on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN. With Read More
Retail FacilitiesHeartland Tank Protects Fertilizer From Extreme Cold At…
July 1, 2015
The Arthur Companies in Harvey, ND, enlisted the help of Heartland Tank Companies to develop a new liquid fertilizer facility Read More
The McGregor Co. fertilizer loadout
Retail FacilitiesThe McGregor Co. Partners With Kahler Automation To Cre…
June 30, 2015
Kahler Automation helped The McGregor Co. expand its Clarkston, WA, operation with unstaffed loadout technology that enables customers to pick Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Helps CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative Build…
June 30, 2015
CHS Dakota Ag Cooperative in Mooreton, ND, wanted a liquid/dry blender system that could meet the needs of its customers Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes, United Suppliers To Merge Crop Inpu…
June 29, 2015
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and United Suppliers, Inc. of Ames, IA, today announced their intent to merge their crop inputs businesses. Read More
FungicidesHelena To Distribute Unique Summit Agro Fungicide
June 29, 2015
RANMAN 400 SC fungicide, the only fungicide with a FRAC group 21 designation, is now part of the innovative Summit Read More
Eric SfiligojIARC Targets 2,4-D In Latest Report
June 29, 2015
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has struck again. Earlier this year in March, this agency of the Read More
Milan Kucerak, president/CEO, West Central
CropLife 100West Central Cooperative And Its New President Are A Ma…
June 29, 2015
To appreciate just how unique West Central Cooperative is in the world of ag retail, an observer need only consider Read More
EquipmentCase IH Launches New Precision Air 5 Series Carts
June 29, 2015
Case IH recently introduced its new Precision Air 5 series air carts, developed to get the most from every plant’s Read More
InsecticidesVestaron Biopesticide Approved In California
June 29, 2015
Vestaron Corporation, a developer of insect control products derived from naturally occurring peptides, today announced that its VST-006330-EP biopesticide has received Read More