Five crop specialists who have excelled in engaging farmers in sustainable best management practices are the recipients of the Growmark Endure 4R Advocate award. The crop specialists are being recognized for their work with farmers in using the 4R (right source, right rate, right time, right place) approach to nutrient stewardship, assisting growers with fertilizer management, implementing a nitrogen monitoring program like N-Watch, and more.

The five Endure 4R Advocate award winners are: Logan Haake (Legacy Farmers Cooperative), Rick Klevze (Growmark FS) Malcolm Stambaugh (Ag View FS), Jason Wesslund (Heritage FS), and Chris Snip (Agris Co-operative).

“We are excited to recognize these crop specialists for their dedication to working with farmers on sustainable best management practices,” said Lance Ruppert, Growmark director of agronomy marketing. “We had a very deep pool of candidates who work diligently to improve water quality, manage nutrients sustainably, and engage in soil conservation practices. These initiatives are paramount to all of us throughout the Growmark and FS Systems,” he added.

The five crop specialists were nominated by their member companies. A selection committee comprised of individuals from the agriculture industry outside of the Growmark System served as judges. Winners will receive recognition for their achievement and an all-expense-paid trip with their spouse to attend the 2016 Growmark Annual Meeting and Agribusiness Symposium. This is the first year for the Endure 4R Advocate award and is part of the Growmark System sustainability initiative Endure.

Logan Haake – Legacy Farmers Cooperative

Logan Haake is the precision ag manager for Legacy Farmers Cooperative. In his role, he leads all precision planting, climate, grid sampling, field scouting, variable rate prescriptions, and other precision ag programs for Legacy Agronomy. Haake is a Certified Crop Adviser, serves on the Ohio CCA Board and is currently working towards his 4R Nutrient Management Specialty certification. Haake has worked to get all five of their agronomy plants to be 4R certified. They are the first in Ohio to have all locations approved.

“Following the 4R approach is both environmentally and economically sound for our growers,” said Haake. “If we want to be sustainable in the future, all four components of the 4R approach will get us there. Not over applying by using VRT and precision, and applying the product at the right time is very critical for our growers’ success,” he added.

Rick Klevze – Growmark FS

Rick Klevze is the location manager at the Growmark FS Bloomsbury, New Jersey location. He has over 35 years of experience and has been a Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) since 1994.

“The 4R approach is a sensible way to balance environmental concerns with the economic needs of the farmer,” said Klevze. “It uses sustainable agronomic practices learned from 2,000 years of agricultural progress to maximize fertilizer efficiency and minimize nutrient losses. It is a concise visual device which communicates to the public that production agriculture cares for our environment, while maximizing food production for an increasingly hungry world. My co-workers and I utilize 4R practices for the benefit of our customers and our community,” he added.

Malcolm Stambaugh – Ag View FS

Malcolm Stambaugh joined Ag View FS in 2008 and is a crop specialist in Walnut, Illinois. Stambaugh has worked with farmers to be recognized by The Fertilizer Institute’s 4R Advocate Program three years in a row. He also worked with another farmer to win the World Forage Analysis Superbowl at the World Dairy Expo three years in a row and another to win the Pursuit of Maximum Yield contest.

“In concept, a lot of producers are using the 4Rs because they make sense and provide an economic advantage,” said Stambaugh. “As an industry, we need to better tell our story to show consumers and other producers how it works. We are being the best nutrient stewards we can be while protecting the environment for future generations. Our role is to partner with growers to establish best management practices. A grower’s willingness to push the envelope is only tempered by our requirements to increase yield, do it profitably for the grower, and have an environmentally neutral impact. This expands well beyond product-related decisions,” he added.

Chris Snip – Agris Co-operative

Chris Snip is a Certified Crop Advisor and has worked at Agris Co-operative, based in Ontario, Canada, for 16 years. He is also an active member of Delta Waterfowl, The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, and a board member of the local Soils and Crop Association.

“I started really showing appreciation for the 4R approach after I witnessed a large algae bloom in the western basin of Lake Erie in the fall of 2011,” said Snip. “I live on a tributary of Lake Erie. Across the road from the lake, my family and I spend a lot of time in and on the water and consuming fish from the lake. I hated to see the lake that way. I felt I could play an important role in reducing nutrient loss from agricultural lands in my trade area. I work with growers individually to help them come up with ways that can reduce nutrient losses on their farm operation that work with their cropping practices and equipment capabilities while maximizing nutrient utilization and profitability,” he added.

Jason Wesslund – Heritage FS

Jason Wesslund is the area manager for the eastern half of the Heritage FS territory based in Gilman, Illinois. He supervises four agronomy locations and four energy territories. Wesslund also leads education and training of sustainable best management practices at Heritage FS. He serves on the board of directors at the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association.

“I use the 4R approach to make recommendations because it fits into what many of us have already been doing,” said Wesslund. “The biggest change has been how we approach nitrogen applications from using learning tools like N-Watch. We have adapted our recommendations from one trip of nitrogen to two and three trips per season. If we don’t promote better practices to our growers, we will be told what practices to use and we all know that isn’t the answer to a sustainable future in agriculture,” he added.