Accelerating Adoption of 4R Nutrient Practices
• Agricultural Retailers Association
• American Society of Agronomy – Certified Crop Advisors
• National Association of Conservation Districts
• National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
• National Association of State Conservation Agencies
• National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
This group, known collectively as the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Stakeholders, believes that it is time to make additional progress in controlling the loss of nutrients by enhancing the working relationship between agricultural retailers and soil and water conservation districts. However, before this group could move forward, they determined that they needed more information on the agricultural retailer and conservation district relationship, and in late 2012, they commissioned a survey of field-level agricultural retailer and conservation district employees.
Survey Results Enlightening
A major, and expected, finding of the survey is related to communication; specifically, the two groups do not know each other very well, and they do not work together to help agricultural producers plan or implement nutrient stewardship practices.
As expected, differences exist between the two groups of survey respondents. For example, in terms of current working partnerships, the agricultural retailers identified certified crop advisors (CCA) and other agricultural retailers as their top partners. In contrast, the conservation districts identified their top two partners as the Natural Resources Conservation Service and state agricultural and environmental agencies. Both groups agreed that a major barrier to working closer together was that the groups have different objectives.
The survey found that the two groups do share common preferences. When asked what was important to their organization, each gave a very high rating to “customer loyalty” and having a “positive environmental impact.” In addition, 63 percent of the conservation district respondents wanted more nutrient stewardship information from agricultural retailers and 82 percent of the agricultural retailers wanted more information from conservation districts. Both groups agreed that the way to overcome their barriers to working closer together was to improve professional relationships, facilitate sharing of technical information, schedule regular meetings, and hold joint training sessions. In short, as one of the agricultural retailer respondents commented: “Communication is still the key.”
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