The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) honored five American farmers and their fertilizer retail partners last week at the 2016 Commodity Classic in New Orleans, La. These 2016 4R Grower Advocates are dedicated to the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship: using the right nutrient source at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place. These practices help increase yields, improve soils, and enhance ecosystems. Each of the 2016 4R Advocate growers operate multi-generational family farms.

"Our 4R Advocates really understand the value in implementing the 4R practices and have been excellent examples of how using these principles can help farmers be great businessmen and stewards of the environment," said Chris Jahn, TFI President. "I am extremely pleased  to honor their work, and I hope they serve as an example to all farmers that the 4R program can really benefit them for years to come."

These winners were awarded an expense-paid trip to the 2016 Commodity Classic, where they were honored at an awards banquet hosted by TFI. While at Commodity Classic, the advocates represented the 4R program at the trade show and participated in various interviews with media outlets. Throughout the year they will also be part of TFI's outreach efforts to promote nutrient management practices by hosting farm field days, participating in conference panels, and speaking on behalf of 4Rs to their farming peers.

The 2016 4R Grower and Retailer Advocates are:

  • Ric Rodriguez and Joe Bridges with J.R. Simplot Company. Both hail from Powell, Wyoming where Rodriguez operates a third-generation family farm consisting of 1,400 acres of sugar beets, 1,400 acres of malt barley and 200 acres of alfalfa hay. All acres of this operation are irrigated and Rodriguez has begun utilizing pivot irrigation in place of flood irrigation. The use of pivot irrigation and precision agricultural technologies have reduced water usage by 33 percent and led to better overall nutrient management. 
     
  • Darin Stolte of Olin, Iowa and Jimmie Daughtery, Precision Ag Specialist with River Valley Coop in Davenport, Iowa. Stolte, along with his mother and father farm 1,100 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Stolte is also the co-owner of a drainage tiling business and owns and operates a cow-calf operation. He conducts many nitrogen trials on his farm which has led to collaboration with the Iowa Soybean Association - On-Farm Network.
     
  • Grower Thomas Connors of Shipman, Illinois and nominating retailer Regan Wear, who is the Agronomy Manager for CHS Inc., also in Shipman, Ill. Connors, along with his father, wife and two sons owns and operates a fourth-generation family farm consisting of a small cow-calf operation and 2,500 acres of row crop production. Soil conservation practices, grid soil sampling, the incorporation of yield data into fertility recommendations and yield maps have helped build better soils and increase yields on Conners' farm.
     
  • Calvin Haile, Haile Farm, LLC. in Dunnsville, Virginia and Lucas Householder, General Manager of Southern States' Cooperative's Eastern Virginia Agronomy Operations in King William, Virginia. Haile is a second generation farmer with a 2,750 acre operation on the Rappahannock River. Haile is certified by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreations' Virginia Nutrient Management Program. Grid soil sampling and satellite imagery scouting are but two practices that have helped this farmer and retailer team turn the 4Rs into an investment with a solid return on investment.
     
  • Lowell and David Myerholtz, Myerholtz Farms, Gibonsburg, Ohio and John Fritz, CCA with The Andersons, Inc. Fremont, Ohio. Lowell and his son David operate Myerholtz Farms which consists of 1,500 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, located in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The farming operation incorporates strip tillage along with variable rate fertilizer application to promote a strong overall 4R Nutrient Management Program.

The 4R philosophy is an innovative and science-based approach that offers enhanced environmental protection, increased production, increased farmer profitability, and improved sustainability. As evidenced by the geographic diversity of the 2016 Advocates, benefits of the 4R nutrient stewardship system are spreading far and wide through agriculture and society as a whole.

Fertilizer is a component of sustainable crop production systems, and the fertilizer industry recognizes the need to efficiently utilize these nutrients. The 4R Advocate program is one of many facets of a high-priority initiative to raise awareness and adoption of fertilizer best management practices using the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship.

To help address this challenge, TFI works with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, the International Fertilizer Industry Association, and the Canadian Fertilizer Institute to advance the 4R nutrient stewardship initiative.