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

LegislationFall Fertilizer Transportation Could Be At Risk With Possible Rail Stoppage
October 1, 2015
Failure by Congress to extend the deadline for the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the railroads could gridlock Read More
LegislationEndangered Species Act, Pollinator Health Among Key Issues For CropLife America
September 7, 2015
Recently, CropLife® magazine had the chance to talk with CropLife America about the association’s key objectives and concerns. CropLife (CL): Read More
FertilizerTFI Weighs In On Fertilizer Rail Transport Bill
May 14, 2015
With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies Read More
LegislationGov. Kasich Signs Ohio Bill For Lake Erie Water Quality
April 2, 2015
Gov. John Kasich has signed a bill aimed at protecting Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality, reports editorial staff at Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100CHS, MKC Consider Second Grain Terminal In Milan, KS
November 30, 2015
CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, and MKC, a full-service farm cooperative Read More
CropLife 100United Cooperative Acquires Four ADM Wisconsin Facilities
November 12, 2015
United Cooperative, based out of Beaver Dam, WI, recently acquired four grain and agronomy locations from Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Car Makes NASCAR Xfinity Series
October 29, 2015
BRANDT will join JR Motorsports with driver, Justin Allgaier, for the 2016 NASCAR Xfinity (NXS) Series season. Allgaier will pilot Read More
CHS Building exterior
CropLife 100CHS Leaders Help Shape Succession Report
October 22, 2015
Succession planning was listed as a main concern of cooperative leaders at this summer’s 15 regional CHS owner town hall Read More
Fall Harvest
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases Eight Regional Seed Companies
October 12, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has announced the purchase of eight regional seed companies to advance its seed business. Pinnacle has acquired: Read More
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100CHS, MKC Consider Second Grain Terminal In Milan, KS
November 30, 2015
CHS Inc., an energy, grains and food company and the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, and MKC, a full-service farm cooperative Read More
Dow AgroSciences Logo wall
HerbicidesGowan Co. To Acquire DNA Herbicides From Dow AgroScienc…
November 30, 2015
Gowan Co. has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the entire global dinitroaniline (DNA) herbicide portfolio from Dow AgroSciences Read More
Palmer pigweed in soybean stubble
Herbicides‘Back to the Future’ Weed Control: Herbicide Outlook 20…
November 30, 2015
What’s new for herbicides in 2016? Well, not much, but the learning process is sure to continue for fine-tuning resistance Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
HerbicidesDow Expects Enlist Duo To Be Available For The 2016 U.S…
November 30, 2015
Relative to EPA’s recently filed motion to vacate the registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, The Dow Chemical Co. is confident Read More
HerbicidesBREAKING: EPA Pulls Registration On Dow’s Enlist …
November 25, 2015
EPA on Wednesday withdrew approval of a controversial new weed killer to be used on genetically modified corn and soybeans, Read More
FertilizerYara Tampa Ammonia Terminal Garners ResponsibleAg Honor…
November 25, 2015
Yara has received its first ResponsibleAg Certification for its Tampa, FL, Ammonia terminal location. This achievement demonstrates Yara’s commitment to Read More
ManagementReviewing The Top Ag Stories For 2015
November 24, 2015
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss the most noteworthy events from this past year in agriculture. Read More
EmployeesAgriculture Jobs May Be Plentiful, But New Grads Are Sc…
November 24, 2015
Close to 60,000 jobs are set to open up in agriculture each year for the next five years, but there's not enough grads to fill them. Read More
Radish cover crop
StewardshipCover Crops Guide Helps Growers Improve Water Quality
November 23, 2015
A publication that teaches growers the advantages of using cover crops to improve soil health and crop yields has won Read More
Crop InputsThe Andersons’ Products Receive California Organi…
November 23, 2015
The Plant Nutrient Group of The Andersons, Inc. announced today that its Humic DG and Black Gypsum DG products are Read More
Eric SfiligojNew European Study Seems To Support Glyphosate Safety
November 23, 2015
Looking at any international news over the past few years, it might seem as if the European Union (EU) is Read More
Toggle Biostimulant corn roots
Crop InputsTwo New Biostimulants Added To United Suppliers’ …
November 20, 2015
Winfield US announces the launch of two new products in the United Suppliers portfolio for the 2016 crop season, Optify Read More
StewardshipNRDC Report: Cover Crops Contain Vast Benefits
November 19, 2015
As harvest season ends and farmers in the United States ready themselves for winter, one small change could make a Read More
Fall Harvest
Seed/BiotechArysta Launches New Seed Protectant
November 19, 2015
As spring wheat growers begin planning for a strong start to their season, Arysta LifeScience North America announces RANCONA V Read More
Crop InputsInocucor Receives U.S. Patent For Microbials
November 19, 2015
Inocucor Technologies Inc., the Montreal-based agriculture biotech company, was issued patent No. 9,175,258 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to protect Read More
ManagementSyngenta Rumors and ARA 2015 Preview
November 19, 2015
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj looks at the latest rumors involving Syngenta selling its crop protection business and talks about events Read More
EquipmentAGCO Announces Finalists For Operator Of The Year Honor
November 19, 2015
AGCO Corp. has announced the four top operators chosen as finalists for AGCO’s 10th Annual Operator of the Year program, Read More
High Plains Aquifer
StewardshipStudy: High Plains Aquifer Overall Usage In Decline
November 18, 2015
A new Kansas State University study finds that the over-tapping of the High Plains Aquifer’s groundwater beyond the aquifer’s recharge Read More