Accelerating Adoption of 4R Nutrient Practices
“All of us in agriculture and crop nutrient [and] environmental management need to work together…for the benefit of our business…and producers.” ~ Agricultural retailer comment in the 4R Survey.
Why should the agricultural retailer industry care about working with conservation districts to help farmers accelerate the adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship practices? That’s a fair question.
Before we discuss partnering with conservation districts, here is a working definition of 4R nutrient stewardship. It is a philosophy based on an innovative, science-based approach that can enhance environmental protection and increase farmer profitability. The 4R approach to nutrient stewardship integrates the Right fertilizer source, at the Right rate, at the Right time, with the Right placement.
“The fertilizer industry has been working to broaden the 4R nutrient stewardship effort and improving the working relationship between agricultural retailers and other service providers as one of the keys to accelerating producer adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship,” said Lara Moody, director of stewardship programs, The Fertilizer Institute.
Regulations and Opportunities
One important reason agricultural retailers should be interested in partnering with conservation districts is the nutrient run-off challenge facing agriculture. Calls are intensifying for increased use of regulations to control non-point source losses of nutrients. Recent examples of pending agricultural regulations include the Total Daily Maximum Load regulations in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the numeric nutrient standards in Florida.
In addition, an article in the Des Moines Register indicated that “the nonprofit Iowa Environmental Council, believes it may be time to require fertilizer management plans of farmers, similar to the manure management plans already required of many livestock producers.” Some states, like Maryland, already have requirements in place for nutrient management.
The partnership could create potential business opportunities for agricultural retailers. Planning and implementing 4R nutrient stewardship practices can help an agricultural retailer grow their service business line. As one agricultural retailer said, “Precision agriculture is critical for profitable and sustainable agriculture.”
To help advance the voluntary nutrient stewardship approach, The Fertilizer Institute brought together the following key stakeholders, who all work closely with farmers and ranchers: