Sustainability In Agriculture: The Right Place & Right Time

4R Nutrient Stewardship diagram

There’s something to be said about being at the right place and the right time. Now fertilizer retailers can add right rate and right source to that old adage. The 4Rs refers to the right place, time, rate and source. And Nick Sommers, a crop consultant with Crop Production Services (CPS) in Delphi, IN, says the advantage to the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program is that it provides an outline for retailers to use as a self review to see if there are any areas “up for improvement.”

The 4R philosophy revolves around the premise that four aspects of fertilizer management are interconnected and none of the four can be right when any one of them is wrong. Soil conditions, cropping systems, management techniques and climate all play into the scientific principles of 4R:

“It is nice to have the chance to be a part of a start up program that is being proactive in telling the story of American agriculture,” says Sommers. “I think 4R gives us a checklist to see what we can do to grow those aspects of our business that are promoting nutrient stewardship, thanks to the direction of the Institute.”

The Institute Sommers is referring to is The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), the industry voice that represents the public policy, communication and statistical needs of producers, importers, wholesalers and retailers. TFI is working collaboratively with the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, the International Fertilizer Industry Association and the International Plant Nutrition Institute in making the awareness and adoption of 4R a top priority.

“I know TFI and the 4R program is filling a void that we have had — the advocacy portion,” explains Sommers. “I think that’s probably the biggest advantage to this program. It’s not so much the technology that’s offered, but that it’s bringing it all together as one so we can present it to our consumers and the public in the fashion that says: ‘Hey look at what we can do. We are environmental stewards here, stewards of the land and we’re members of your community.’”

The Retailers’ Role

Kathy Mathers, TFI’s vice president of public affairs, says she’s thrilled to hear that retailers are helping growers meet not only their economic and social goals, but that they are doing it in a way to address environmental issues that may be specific within their region. One of the ways TFI is recognizing the adoption of the program is with its 4R Advocate Award Program.

Launched last fall, this grower recognition program rewards agricultural retailers and producers who are leading the way in implementing the 4R system. Sommers nominated one of its CPS’ grower-customers, Todd Welch. Welch manages a 2,300-acre corn, wheat and soybean farm and a 25,000 hog operation.

The award program is just one component of TFI’s larger rollout of the 4R system. The organization is educating members and growers about the 4Rs at agricultural trade shows, member company visits and other 4R speaking engagements.

Retailers can also look to the Web­site called www.nutrientstewardship.com, which serves to introduce the 4R concept to help educate their customers. A brochure titled “Implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship on the Farm Right Now” is available as a PDF at the Website or hard copies can be shipped by contacting the TFI office in Washington, DC.

“One of our primary goals in setting up the 4R program was to offer a support system for retailers and their customers that would assist them in increasing their production and profitability,” says Mathers, “all while keeping a close watch on that environmental component.”

Protecting the environment is key in the 4R system and Mathers says the fertilizer industry is taking a proactive stance in its use of nutrients. Before the 4R Nutrient Ste­wardship program can be implemented, it requires the use of best management practices (BMPs). BMPs optimize fertilizer use, says Mathers. She explains that the challenge for many ag retailers is to match nutrient supply with crop requirements and to minimize nutrient losses from fields. BMPs chosen for a given farm are dependent on local soil and climatic conditions, crop, management conditions and other site specific factors.

“Pressure to limit the use of fertilizers is increasing,” she explains. “Legislative, regulatory and non-government organization activities, including legal action pertaining to nutrients in the environment, are taking place on national, regional, state and local levels,” Mathers says, citing that one such example includes federal government and environmental groups asking for additional regulations and pollution reduction strategies. These include reductions, and potentially, bans on nutrient applications.

Playing A Bigger Role

The stress of population growth is another reason why ag retailers should promote the 4P program. Case in point: The global population is on track to increase by more than two billion people in the next 40 years. With that comes the indication that agricultural production needs to double by 2050.

Industry experts agree that increased production of food, fiber and fuel will only be achieved by intensified production and not through expansion of an arable land base. Genetic and biotech seed industries have predicted yield increases of 3% to 4% per year. However, to optimize the yields of advanced seeds, fertilizer inputs must be optimized to provide the greatest potential for success.

“What makes the 4R system different from other programs we have launched is that it is designed specifically for retailers,” Mathers explains. “Retailers greatly influence growers, and if we can provide them with the necessary tools, together we will have a unified message.”

“We all want to be advocates for agriculture,” emphasizes CPS’ Sommers. “And the 4R system helps us work towards that effort.”

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Stewardship Stories
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
StewardshipBayer Lands Honor For Bee Care Center, Other Initiatives
June 3, 2014
Bayer Corp. has been named a 2014 Responsible Care Company of the Year by the American Chemistry Council, thanks in large part to its Drive Toward Zero initiative and North American Bayer Bee Care Center. Read More
StewardshipStrip-Tillage: A Sustainable Effort
March 3, 2014
As sustainable agriculture grows in popularity, interest in custom strip-tillage is growing. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More