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

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
StewardshipCTIC Granted Nearly $500,000 To Examine Benefits Of Cover Crops
October 17, 2013
The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) has received a $482,000 Conservation Innovation Grant to study the benefits of cover crops. Read More

Trending Articles

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
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More

Latest News

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Crowd Tops 2013 Show
September 19, 2014
The 52nd annual Ohio State University Farm Science Review welcomed more than 130,000 farmers, industry professionals, FFA students and agricultural enthusiasts during the three-day event. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
BlendersYargus Appoints New Plant Manager
September 18, 2014
Steve Shaffer will direct and coordinate daily operations at the company’s Marshall, IL, manufacturing plant, where the Layco line of material handling equipment is produced. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More