Nutrient-related issues are demanding attention on a number of fronts. Surface water impairments, such as hypoxia and algal blooms, are igniting calls to action from environmental groups concerned with their local watersheds. States are establishing nutrient loss reduction strategies while legal battles ensue over numeric nutrient criteria and total maximum daily load. In addition to the productivity aspects of fertilizer, in the current situation you must address loss pathways, potential environmental impacts and the relation of those concepts to management practice selection and grower profitability. These are all factors we must consider while also striving to meet peoples’ needs for food, fuel and fiber in a sustainable way.

Expanding your knowledge to address these areas takes time, but your efforts to utilize these concepts benefit your customer, your organization and key stakeholders. Additionally, agriculture as a whole benefits from a knowledgeable community of interested parties. We are better served if individuals involved in state and federal nutrient policy, corporate food supply chain sustainability initiatives, and non-government organization conservation have an improved understanding of nutrient use concepts.

To help address this educational need, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA/NRCS), Iowa State University (ISU) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) to create a set of online, 4R educational modules for site-specific nutrient management. 4R Nutrient Stewardship or applying the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place, is essential to nutrient use efficiency and productivity. The modules address the macro- and micronutrients as well as soil sampling and integrated economic and environmental issues relative to nutrient management within the context of the 4R’s. Topics include an explanation of the key components of plant nutrition in relation to selection of fertilizer best management practices addressing the 4Rs. You can access the modules at the following link, http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/4r-training.

The online modules, which are available free of cost, include downloadable content, playable presentations with audio and links to additional resource materials. The modules are well suited for use by individuals interested in learning more about basic soil fertility; nutrient cycling and loss pathways; and use of practices relative to source, rate, timing and placement. They will provide a solid knowledge base for individuals working with growers as well as those stakeholders working in the area of environmental quality and related policy.

Take some time to utilize the educational modules and consider who else in your organization would find them beneficial. Additionally, perform some outreach. Are there stakeholders, peers or growers outside of your organization who would benefit from an improved understanding of nutrient use in agriculture?

Information on 4R Nutrient Stewardship, the educational modules and other resource materials are available at http://www.nutrientstewardship.com/.