Communicating the 4Rs to Farmers: Insights & Opportunities
As actions and communications supporting 4R Nutrient Stewardship have increased and awareness of the framework has been elevated, so has the knowledge base assessing the impact of fertilizer practice change on yield, profitability, and the environment, according to an article on NutrientStewardship.com. Each month new literature evaluating the implementation and impact of specific practices linked to fertilizer source, rate, time and place becomes available. And, each season, new 4R-based trials are placed on experiment stations and in farmer fields. The result is an ever-expanding set of data, results, tools and knowledge in need of sharing with those making practice change decisions on the ground.
With an eye towards communicating the ever-expanding science of 4R implementation, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) undertook a two-phase approach to understanding the need, scope, and direction of 4R messaging and communications. Using a combination of on-line focus groups and a phone survey, TFI assessed the current state of 4R awareness, practice change barriers, preferred information sources and message receptiveness to better understand farmers as an audience for future 4R communications.
The survey found that fertilizer is a very important topic to farmers, and many already believe they are engaging in the “right” practices. There is a hurdle to overcome in suggesting new methods among an audience already committed to what they believe are the best practices. Familiarity with the 4R program is quite low, but farmers are receptive, particularly if a new practice has the potential to improve their bottom line.
A complete explanation of the survey and its results can be found here.