What is the 4R Advocate Program?
Raising awareness and adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship is a top priority for the fertilizer industry. The industry is working to educate fertilizer manufacturers and retailers, growers, and agricultural stakeholders about the 4Rs at agricultural trade shows, through company visits and other 4R speaking engagements. While the 4R messages from the fertilizer industry are being well received, we recognize that engaging agricultural producers and sharing 4R success stories from the field level will play a critical role in adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship practices.
In 2012, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) launched a 4R Advocate program to recognize agricultural retailers and agricultural producers that are leading the way when it comes to implementing 4R nutrient stewardship on the farm. Scroll down to find details about operations of the 2012 and 2013 Advocates and link to videos below to hear the award winning growers and their nominating retailers as they explain the 4Rs in their own words:
We have also met with some of our 4R Advocates at their own operations to capture video showing how they implement the 4Rs on the Farm.
- Managing Nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay
- Optimizing Wheat Production and Soil Health in Washington
- Using Precision Technologies to Grow Vegetables in Michigan
2014 4R Advocate program
Nominations for 2014 4R Advocates were accepted October 1 through November 12. This year's winners will accompany us to the 2014 Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas.
2013 4R Advocate Program
In January, TFI announced the winners of the 2013 4R Advocate Awards, recognizing farmers and retailers who are protecting the environment, boosting profitability and benefiting society through nutrient stewardship practices based on the 4R’s (use of the right nutrient source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place). The winners were nominated by their retail dealers who are also recognized with 4R awards. The five winning growers, a spouse or companion and their nominating retailers were awarded an expense-paid trip to the Commodity Classic, Feb. 28-March 2 in Kissimmee, Fla. The Commodity Classic is the once-a-year, can't-miss event for America's soybean, corn, wheat and sorghum farmers. At the Classic, 4R Advocate winners see the latest agricultural innovations first-hand and met other growers and agricultural leaders from across the nation honored at an invitation-only 4R Advocate banquet. The 2013 winners and links to their 4R Advocate Profiles are as follows:
• Rick and Jesse Brunner of Fifth Generation Farms operate a 2,700-acre dry land farm growing winter wheat, spring wheat, triticale, spring barley and mustard. They work with Josh Bafus of CPS.
What Rick and Jesse say about the 4Rs: “The 4R program epitomizes our philosophy to farm management. As a multi-generational farm, we are responsible not only to our current family to provide a living, but also to those that will come after us. We strive to improve our overall soil health, to limit our environmental impact, and to increase our profits while continuing the farm legacy we received.”
What Josh says about the 4Rs: “Crop Production Services and our growers promote the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program to produce better crops with higher yields. We utilize the best management practices for agricultural sustainability as well as minimizing environmental impact for future generations to follow.”
• Alan Jones of Jones Potato Inc operates a 2,800-acre potato, green bean, citrus and cattle farm. He works with Dennis Coleman of CPS.
What Alan says about the 4Rs: “4R program ideals have been at the core of my fertility program for years. Adapting my fertilizer programs based on crop needs, weather and raw material prices has enabled Jones Potato Farm to maximize production while keeping costs in check.”
What Dennis says about the 4Rs: “So many times we get stuck in a rut and repeat the same programs year after year. The 4R Program spurs us into really thinking about fertility programs and to reevaluate how we are managing them. As a result, growers may just end up becoming a little more profitable and an even better steward of the land.”
• Alan Madison of Madison Farms operates a 3,300-acre corn and soybean operation with 28 acres of CRP as filter strips and wildlife habitat areas. He works with Mark Orr (Ag View FS).
What Alan says about the 4Rs: “In concept, a lot of producers are using the 4Rs because they make sense and provide an economical advantage. 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.”
What Mark says about the 4Rs: “Our role is to partner with growers to establish best management practices. We are involved with On Farm Discovery projects that produce “Predictable Performers” relative to tweaking existing programs. 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.”
• John Scates of Pat Scates and Sons Farm and his family operate a 17,000-acre corn, soybean, grain sorghum and wheat operation. They work with Mike Wilson (Wabash Valley FS).
What John says about the 4Rs: “The soil is our most important asset. Pat Scates and Sons use the 4Rs to help protect the farming operation and the environment. This translates into using only what we need yet maximizing our profit and our efficiency. The 4Rs also help our farm to convey a positive message to our peers and our consumers that we are conscientious about the environment in which we farm.”
What Mike says about the 4Rs: “The 4Rs have always been an important component of how our crop specialists address nutrient management with our growers. Now, with Illinois’ KIC 2025, the 4Rs are even more critical to helping our growers adhere to guidelines to ensure good water quality in our watersheds.”
• Justin Stoneman of Stoneman Farms and his family operate a 3,200-acre fourth generation farm growing row crops and vegetables; 2012 crops included corn, soybeans, wheat, sugar beets and machine harvest cucumbers. He works with Steve Wendzel (Wilbur Ellis).
What Justin says about the 4Rs: “Any program that advocates best-use agricultural practices is a step in the right direction. There is a lot of value to 4R practices. If producers would consider implementing the 4R’s into their current practices, they would find it beneficial to their long-term goals of sustainability and good stewardship of the land.”
What Steve says about the 4Rs: “Stoneman Farms won a 4R award, not because they set out to strictly follow the 4Rs, but because the concept has always been their business philosophy for financial stability and environmental stewardship. Their use of manure and cover crops to enhance soil health are key focal areas. As the old saying goes, ‘Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.’”
2012 4R Advocates
In March 2012, TFI announced the winners of its inaugural 4R Advocate program at the Commodity Classic in Nashville, Tenn. Winning growers and retailers were awarded an expense-paid trip to the 2012 Commodity Classic, where they participted in the 4R exhibit booth and were honored at an awards banquet hosted by TFI. Throughout 2012, the 4R Grower Advocates will be part of TFI’s outreach efforts to promote nutrient management practices that benefit farmers and their communities as well as the environment.
The 2012 4R Grower Advocates, along with the retailers that nominated them, are:
- Bruce Favinger, Minden, Neb., 1,800-acre corn and soybean producer nominated by Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI), Nebraska. Ranking both stewardship and productivity as priority goals, Favinger takes advantage of enhanced fertilizers and correlates precision agriculture data to develop site-specific fertilizer prescriptions. Bruce works with CPI's Ty Fickenscher to utilize emerging tools and technologies to maintain responsible and sustainable agriculture.
What Ty says about the 4Rs: “The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program promotes placing nutrients using the most efficient methods to maximize crop production while minimizing underutilized product and environmental impact. Growers implementing the 4Rs choose to be better stewards of the land by being critical of the inputs that are used and the methods that are used to apply them”.
What Bruce says about the 4Rs: “The 4Rs program is a great commonsense approach to a complete fertilizer plan. It is the way we should all be looking at our fertilizer, and as an industry, agriculture needs to take a proactive approach to the environmental practices that we use and then tell consumers what we are doing and why it is good for a safe food production system”.
- Paul Loyer, Loyer Farms, Marion, Ohio, 3,000-acre corn, soybean and wheat producer nominated by Morral Companies, Morral, Ohio. Specific placement of nutrients at rates determined by GPS-linked information helps the Loyer family boost fertilizer efficiency while protecting the environment. Paul and his sons work with Morral Companies' Brandon McClure to increase farm profitability while remaining good stewards of the family's land to maintain its value for future generations, and reduce the potential runoff of nutrients to no-target ares.
What Brandon says about the 4Rs: “The 4R program is a great way for us to help people understand what we are doing to keep agriculture successful and safe. That’s true for those of us involved directly as well as for people who may reside near it and for all those who may not realize how they are affected by agriculture. Even though we understand that we are doing things in a safe and productive way, others may not. If we do not highlight what we are doing to keep agriculture safe and bountiful, the very population for whom we are producing healthier food and other products may very well limit where we can go in the future with agriculture”.
What Paul says about the 4Rs: “The 4R program is something we had already been doing on our farm. It allows us to be a better steward of the land we intend to have provide for our families for generations to come. We believe that the implementation of these practices has not only allowed for us to better manage our nutrients, but be more profitable in doing so."
- Temple Rhodes, Chestnut Manor Farm, Centreville, Md., 2,200-acre corn, soybean and beef producer nominated by Willard Agri-Service, Maryland. On the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, the Rhodes family takes a proactive approach to nutrient management. A strip-till system applies all fertilizer beneath the soil surface, tissue sampling assesses crop need and rates reflect site-specific data. Temple works with Willard Agri-Service's Allan Spray to make cropping decisions that result in higher nutrient use efficiency and increased farm profitability.
What Allen says about the 4Rs: “The 4R program is central to what we do as an ag retailer for our customers. Helping our customers maximize nutrient use efficiency is a critical part of both the economic and ecologic well-being of our farming environment. The 4R philosophy is part of all the recommendations we make and also drives our thought process on formulation of the products we sell."
What Temple says about the 4Rs: “Many of my farms border the Chesapeake Bay. As I strive to grow and improve my farming operation, the practices of the 4R program are helping me to get higher yields and also be a good steward of the environment”.
- Barry and Dan Turner, Turner Brothers Farm, Mer Rouge, La., 5,600-acre corn, soybean, rice and grain sorghum producers nominated by Crop Production Services (CPS), Louisiana. The Turner brothers utilize grid sampling and soil management zones to enhance fertilizer efficiency and three split applications for corn production to ensure they’re meeting the crop’s nutritional needs and optimum yield potential. Barry and Dan work with CPS's Ed Lane to stay on the forefront of emerging technologies and breakthroughs in science to help maintain the correct balance between their bottom line and being good stewards of the land they work.
What Ed says about the 4Rs: "As a retailer selling fertilizer and application services, I don’t want to be competitive; I want to be the best. Of the fertilizer we apply, 80-90% of the phosphorus and potash and over 90% of lime is applied variable rate based on grid or zone sampling. This quantifies the value growers have found in this technology. It is our goal at Crop Productions Services to continue to take a very intentional approach to fertilization that is consistent with the 4Rs and helps our customers stay profitable”.
What Dan says about the 4Rs: "Costs such as fertilizer, seed and equipment have nearlyquadrupled over the last 10 years. This fact alonehas necessitated we adopt practices such as the4R program. It’s a win, win situation. Economics inthis case are driving the bus that delivers higheryields and more profitability by adopting thesenew technologies. At the same time, producers,consumers and the environment are all benefittingwhen we can make sure our inputs such asfertilizer are staying where they are placed”.
- Todd Welch, Lafayette, Ind., 2,300-acre corn, soybean, wheat and pork producer nominated by Crop Production Services, Indiana. Manure from Welch’s swine finishing facility is balanced with commercial fertilizer through the use of soil management zones, tissue sampling, enhanced fertilizers and split applications. Todd works with CPS's Nick Sommers to maintain and grow the farming operation to preserve the history, heritage and promise of the future for the next generation.
What Nick says about the 4Rs: “Along with ourcustomers, all of us at Crop Production Servicesview our role in fertilizer management to be justas vital as our farmers. A strong and responsiblefertilizer recommendation is proactive inproviding an environmentally sound future forour rural communities!”
What Todd says about the 4Rs: “Our farming operation firmly believes that the proper use of organic and commercial fertilizer is not only vital to our operation, but also economical and environmentally friendly to our natural resources”.