2013 Ag Retail Outlook: Shaping Nutrient Management Policy Through Education

Water will be the number one issue for agriculture in 2013. Will the drought pattern continue? How will water demands be rationed among irrigation, navigation and endangered species? Although water quantity may be the headline issue, the negotiation toward local water quality policies will also impact future generations of farmers.

In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, state nutrient management policies have become the most restrictive regulations in the nation. These policies, which are designed to protect the environment, have tremendous financial cost to farmers and have lasting social impacts on the risks for families to retain farm ownership.

There is the opportunity in your state for 2013 to advance water quality policy based on good science that balances environmental, economic and social sustainability. But there is also the threat that these policies will be developed by well-intentioned people that do not understand crop management or economics.

These state water quality policy opportunities (or threats) will come in three shapes in 2013.

In April 2013, EPA will propose expansions to the federal permit for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) to include additional animal operations and also increase the restrictions on land application of nutrients. States with delegated authority from EPA will need to address these additional criteria in order to maintain authority to issue individual and general permits.

Mississippi River basin states may initiate the process toward Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for rivers with strategies to reduce nutrient pollution. For example, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad announced November 19, 2012, their proposed “Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.”

EPA and USDA NRCS have been working with states to design assessment programs for individual farms that assure that a farm “voluntarily” meets state water quality goals. Farmers hope these programs will shield them from future state regulations. Minnesota intends to establish an Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program to “provide certainty to producers that their attainment and maintenance of certification meets water quality goals and standards of the State.” Virginia has passed legislation that provides a farmer a “presumption of compliance” with state water quality standards and the Chesapeake Bay TMDL, by implementing a Resource Management Plan. In Louisiana, farmers who complete the Master Farmer Program are presumed to be in compliance with Louisiana’s soil and water conservation requirements.

The challenge for 2013 is: will your state be developing water quality policies that are balanced for agriculture, or instead, place an unreasonable burden on farmers? The answer will be influenced by the state’s agricultural stakeholders: farm organizations, retailers, and crop advisors who step up to the table and educate the policy-makers.

For most non-ag people, the simplistic approach in any water quality policy is to advocate reductions of nutrient applications rates. If there is excess nitrogen or phosphorous in surface or ground water, just have farmers apply less.

Ag stakeholders must deliver the message that farmers are implementing the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship to maintain economic, environmental and social sustainability. We must advocate that nutrient pollution can best be minimized through increased nutrient use efficiency. Farmers should calculate the right rate, select the right form of nutrients, apply those nutrients at the right time, and apply in the soil at the right place.

In Pennsylvania, we have focused on the revised NRCS 590 standard, which defines “the management of nutrients as the right amount, right source, right placement and right timing of the application of nutrients to ensure adequate soil fertility for plant production and to minimize the potential for environmental degradation.”

PennAg Industries Association and other agricultural stakeholders have formed the “PA 4R Alliance” to collectively work with farmers to deliver science-based systems that improve crop productivity through increased nutrient use efficiency and reduced losses of nutrients to the environment.  We will pursue opportunities to: 1) increase the productivity and profitability of Pennsylvania farms; 2) enhance environmental conservation; and 3) expand the adoption by Pennsylvania farmers of sustainable nutrient stewardship systems.

Where can you start? Ag retailers and crop advisors must educate state policy-makers on current farm-specific nutrient management practices. The models used by states should include accurate data on local yields, fertilizer and manure application practices.

Your knowledge and shared experience can make a difference toward the establishment of good agricultural nutrient policy in your state in 2013.


Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Pat Tiberi Legislator Of The Year
August 3, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Soybean Field
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Brian Hill Legislator Of The Year
July 19, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Grower Truck at retailer
CropLife 100ARA Seeks Comment on Ag Driver Sleep Apnea Issue
July 5, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are seeking public Read More
Trending Articles
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
AGCO RG700 cab
OpinionRoadblocks To Precision Ag Innovation
October 5, 2016
On August 29, I got to preside over the PrecisionAg Innovation Series event, “Game-Changing Advances in Precision Farming Technology,” developed Read More
J.C. Ramsdell containment system
EquipmentClear Opportunity In The Tank Market
October 4, 2016
Crop prices may be down, but steel prices are too — and that’s good news for retailers looking to add some Read More
WinField booth Farm Progress
Special ReportsTalking Weed Management Strategies At Farm Progress 2016
October 2, 2016
The annual Farm Progress Show — this year staged in Boone, IA — is always a great place to catch Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Latest News
Soybean field
Crop InputsIncotec Invests In North America
October 25, 2016
Leading seed enhancement company Incotec, part of Croda, has announced an investment in their North America business. The total investment of Read More
Patriot 25th anniversary
SprayersCase IH Celebrates 25 Years Of Patriot Sprayers At Bens…
October 24, 2016
Case IH executives, employees and special guests celebrated 25 years of production of Case IH Patriot sprayers in a special Read More
4r Nutrient stewardship
StewardshipNominations For The 4R Advocate Program Due October 31
October 24, 2016
Nominations for the 4R Advocate program are due to The Fertilizer Institute by October 31, 2016. The program recognizes agricultural Read More
Corn close up
Eric SfiligojProtecting Agriculture’s Ability To Feed The World
October 24, 2016
The rate of change coming to agriculture is growing, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This Read More
Student Young Worker CHS
CropLife 100CHS Supports #FirstJob Compact
October 24, 2016
CHS joins the White House and many of the country’s largest employers in signing a new initiative centered on helping Read More
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Two Key Account Managers
October 13, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of two key account managers: Doug Hoberty and Rob Wier. Hoberty and Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Development Deal with Scherer Design
October 12, 2016
Deere & Co. announces a joint development agreement with Scherer Design Engineering, Inc. to develop and commercialize kernel processing solutions Read More