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. Here from the 2012 4R Advocate Award winning growers and their nominating retailers as they explain the 4Rs in their own words to address Crop Production, Environmental Protection, Stakeholder Partnerships, and Public Perceptions. 2012 4R Advocate Video
In the spring of 2012, 4R Advocate Temple Rhodes invited a video producer to his farm to see how he begin the implementation of his 4R plan. The video depicts the innovate and intricate operations he uses to keep nutrients in place for the plants and out of the Chesapeake Bay. Managing Nutrients in the Chesapeake Bay
2013 4R Advocate Program
In January, TFI announced the winners of the 2013 4R Advocate Awards. The 4R Advocate Award program, now in its second year, recognizes farmers 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 2013 winners and links to their 4R Advocate Profiles are as follows:
• Rick and Jesse Brunner of Fifth Generation Farms in Almira, Washington; Nominated by Josh Bafus with Crop Production Services;
• Alan Jones of Jones Potato Inc., in Parrish, Florida; Nominated by Dennis Coleman with Crop Production Services;
• Alan Madison of Madison Farms in Walnut, Illinois; Nominated by Mark Orr with Ag View FS.;
• John Scates of Pat Scates and Sons Farm, in Shawneetown, Illinois; Nominated by Mike Wilson with Wabash Valley FS.; and
• Justin Stoneman of Stoneman Farms, in Breckenridge, Michigan; Nominated by Steve Wendzel with Wilbur Ellis.
“These growers deserve to be recognized by the entire agriculture community for their contribution to sustainable agriculture,” said TFI President Ford West. “Through their use of 4R nutrient stewardship, they are making a difference by protecting the environment, feeding a growing population and benefiting society as a whole. They are shining examples of the environmental, economic and social benefits of modern agriculture.”
The five winning growers, a spouse or companion and their nominating retailers were awarded an expense-paid trip to the Commodity Classic, scheduled for 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 will see the latest agricultural innovations first-hand and meet other growers and agricultural leaders from across the nation and will be honored at an invitation-only banquet.
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”.