4R Research Fund awards second round of grants

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The 4R Research Fund announced it has awarded more than $2 million in grants for four research and demonstration projects that will add to current knowledge and fill existing research gaps regarding fertilizer best management practices. The Fund, supported by the fertilizer industry and other stakeholders, is a science-based research initiative to improve agricultural sustainability by expanding knowledge of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place).

When combined with today’s announcement, the 4R Research Fund has to date granted nearly $2.4 million in support of science-based research aimed at addressing cropping system productivity and concerns regarding nutrient losses into the environment. 

“This effort helps support research needed to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in North America,” said Chris Jahn, President of The Fertilizer Institute. “A sustainable agricultural sector is a vital part of a strong economy.”

With guidance from an industry and academic technical advisory group, the fund’s management committee selected the following research and demonstration projects for funding:

  • Kevin King, with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural  Research Service (ARS), was awarded funds for a project in partnership with Heidelberg University, LimnoTech, Ohio State University, The Nature Conservancy and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI ) to evaluate the impacts of adopting practices associated with 4R Nutrient Stewardship, and the impact of the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) 4R Certification program on crop productivity and profitability, water quality, and perceptions of growers, nutrient service providers and residents in the WLEB.
  • Nathan Nelson was awarded funds to lead efforts at Kansas State University on research to assess interactions between cover crops and phosphorus (P) fertilizer management and their impact on P loss, P use efficiency, crop yield and net return. The effort will also assess how these interactions impact nitrogen (N) loss and N use efficiency.
  • Tony Vyn at Purdue University was awarded a grant to evaluate how late-vegetative and late-season N applications impact modern corn hybrids and the physiological reasons for the differences. 
  • Matthew Helmers and John Sawyer of Iowa State University were awarded funds to assess the production and environmental impacts of multiple N management practices on drained landscapes including fall ammonia with a nitrification inhibitor, spring ammonia, and a split application with a season-specific side-dress rate. 

The fund supports U.S. and Canadian projects in partnership with land-grant universities, watershed stakeholders and government agencies, as well as industry initiatives. Last year, the North American fertilizer industry pledged $7 million to fund this multi-year research effort.

“The fertilizer industry has a key role in feeding a growing population, but we must do so in a way that increases cropping system productivity while minimizing the effect on the environment,” said IPNI President Dr. Terry Roberts. “With this effort, we continue to advance knowledge of the best management practices that will lead to the success of that goal.”

Created in 2013, by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) and IPNI, the Fund is providing resources for a multi-year research effort to measure and evaluate the economic, social and environmental impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship. For additional details about the awarded projects, the 4R Research Fund, or contributors to the fund click here.


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