The Fertilizer Institute’s 4R Nutrient Stewardship Summit in Indianapolis last week covered research and practical applications to get the right fertilizer source at the right rate at the right time and in the right place. The 4Rs’ science-based approach offers enhanced environmental protection, increased production and farmer profitability and improved sustainability.
At the summit, researchers, crop consultants, and industry representatives shared updates, results, and practical recommendations for the 4Rs. Here are our top 10 takeaways from the summit:
- Nutrient management requires a systems approach that considers crop needs, soil health, weather, and much more to improve use efficiency.
- The 4Rs provide a framework to share how the right thing is being done for the land, farmers, and agriculture‘s legacy.
- The 4R research fund, which has a $7 million commitment from the fertilizer industry over a five-year period, is focused on studies that address critical knowledge gaps, complement ongoing studies, and capitalize on existing research resources.
- Incorporating 4R principles into programs, tools, and systems start conversations and help farmers practically implement efficient, profitable nutrient use. Often, federal or state funds are available to help farmers work with crop advisers to put programs in place.
- Agronomists and advisers have the responsibility to make sure farmers have the opportunity to do the right thing. Certifications that provide additional training and education in nutrient stewardship areas are available for these professionals.
- Good data from research and on the farm provide a foundation to understand how to improve nutrient use efficiency and apply the 4Rs.
- Best management practices for nutrient use efficiency and conservation really do help farmers improve soil health and water quality.
- The 4Rs play a key role in efforts to protect and improve watersheds, from the Indian Creek watershed in Illinois to the Des Moines River in Iowa, and the Western Lake Erie Basin.
- Many agricultural and environmental organizations are working together regularly to support farmers as they implement the 4Rs and other stewardship practices.
- The public is hungry to know what farmers do – and agriculture has a great story to tell.