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

Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
FertilizerFort Wayne 4R Farming Event Set For February 12
January 29, 2016
The Nutrient Stewardship Council will host a complimentary “4R Farming 4 Sustainability” educational workshop Feb. 12 in Fort Wayne, IN, Read More
LegislationARA, TFI: Retailers Urged to Consider PSM Compliance
January 20, 2016
In December, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a revised Interim Enforcement Policy addressing enforcement of Process Safety Read More
StewardshipIowa Water Task Force: Give Farmers Cheap Loans To Incentivize Conservation
January 15, 2016
A task force designated to find solutions to Iowa’s water quality problems says the state should offer low-interest loans or Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More
Crop InputsBayer To Contest EPA Flubendiamide Decision
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, announced today it has refused a request by EPA to voluntarily cancel the uses Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechNot So Fast: ChemChina Syngenta Takeover Could Draw Nat…
February 5, 2016
State-owned China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), which plans to buy Swiss seeds and pesticide maker Syngenta, will promptly start preparations Read More
Rendering of Syngenta Seedcare Institute expansion
Seed/BiotechExpansion Of Syngenta’s North America Seedcare In…
February 4, 2016
As demand for seed treatment knowledge and products grows among farmers, retailers and others in the seed industry, Syngenta is Read More
Soybean Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Strengthens Sales Team
February 4, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced three new personnel additions: Jake Cook and Peter White are Territory Sales Managers for Read More
Davor Pisk Syngenta COO
Crop InputsSyngenta COO: Why ChemChina Offer Beat Monsanto’s
February 4, 2016
Syngenta Chief Operating Officer Davor Pisk says he is confident the proposed acquisition by ChemChina will ultimately help preserve choice Read More
Young corn plants in soil
Crop InputsKoch Biological Solutions Invests In Pathway Biologic
February 4, 2016
An affiliate of Koch Biological Solutions, LLC has acquired a minority equity position in, and entered into collaboration with, Pathway Read More
Crop InputsABG: China Signs Off On Monsanto’s Roundup Ready …
February 3, 2016
Monsanto Co. on Wednesday announced it plans to launch its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in time for the 2016 Read More
Syngenta headquarters in Basel, Switzerland
Crop Inputs6 Things To Know About The ChemChina-Syngenta Deal
February 3, 2016
After months of rumors and speculation, Syngenta has announced that ChemChina has offered to acquire the Swiss-based company. “In making Read More
FertilizerPhosphorus: Is Band Or Broadcast Application The Better…
February 3, 2016
Is band or broadcast application the better method when it comes to phosphorus? The answer to this question depends mostly Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina Nearing Deal To Buy Syngenta For Record $43 B…
February 3, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. is nearing an agreement to buy Swiss pesticide-and-seeds-maker Syngenta AG for about 43.7 billion francs ($42.8 Read More
Herbicides2015 ASA Trials Demonstrate Valent Fierce XLT Herbicide…
February 2, 2016
Valent U.S.A. today announced that new Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide ranks in the top tier among growers for length of Read More
Crop Protection Products in storage
Paul SchrimpfCrop Input Selling: Return Of The Price List
February 2, 2016
It was a good 15 years ago, shortly after I first started writing for this esteemed publication, that it all Read More
Potash storage at Growmark
FertilizerThe Phosphate And Potash Outlook For 2016
February 2, 2016
Like other commodities, prices of the leading plant nutrient products dropped sharply in 2015. At this writing, the price of Read More
Chesapeake Bay
StewardshipKeeping A Watch On Water Issues
February 2, 2016
During a down cycle in the market, it’s difficult to think about investing for the long term. For retail businesses, Read More
Young Corn Plants
FertilizerNutrient Considerations For Low Corn Prices
February 2, 2016
Corn prices are low and many producers are asking tough questions about their nutrient management programs. Here are some suggestions Read More