The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President & CEO Chris Jahn has kicked off a campaign aimed at raising awareness with the general public about algal blooms, red tides and dead zones and educating them on how the fertilizer industry is actively working to find a solution.
“We feel as though we have an extremely compelling story to tell,” Jahn said. “People don’t know the many different fertilizer products that are used at different times and places for different purposes, and we won’t get into that, but what we will address are the best practices the fertilizer industry has been promoting for years to both increase farmer productivity and lessen our environmental impact.”
The Fertilizer Institute has been supporting what it calls 4R Nutrient Stewardship, which has been identified by multiple conservation and environmental stakeholders as one of the most impactful pathways to reducing fertilizer loss from the farm. The 4Rs are a collection of best management practices which stand for using the Right fertilizer source, at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right place. “If you are a farmer implementing the 4Rs, it helps ensure that you are only using the amount of fertilizer the plants need where and when they need it. That in turn keeps fertilizer on the field and out of waterways where it may feed naturally occurring algal blooms,” Jahn continued.
Conservation management practices like the 4Rs and other efficiency measures have made a major impact on fertilizer usage over the years. “It takes roughly half of the amount of fertilizer to grow a bushel of corn today as compared to 1980. If you look at fertilizer usage in the state of Florida, it has dropped by 50% over the same time period, which is impressive.”
Even environmental groups are taking notice of the strides made by the fertilizer industry and of farmers implementing nutrient stewardship plans. “An environmental advocacy group in Ohio recently praised farmers using commercial fertilizers responsibly and realized these growers were using less fertilizer and were not part of the problem,” Jahn concluded. “We are extremely proud of that.”
TFI’s campaign will run through the late summer months into early fall and focus on Florida, Iowa, coastal areas around the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and areas surrounding Lake Erie.