08 March 2019

4R Nutrient Stewardship in the new Farm Bill

New Farm Bill puts focus on 4R principle

A new Farm Bill passed Congress and got signed by President Trump in late December 2018. In a new article on Croplife.com, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), Jennifer Martin, outlines what this means for agricultural retailers, crop advisors and growers:

“Congress provides authority for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to allow ag retailers and cooperatives to certify technical service providers. While it is unclear how this will be implemented, there is an opportunity for ag retailers to become a major part of the TSP program, enrolling more acres in nutrient management plans based on the 4Rs.”

“Growers not only need assistance writing their plans but also in implementing them. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is typically where growers look for financial assistance to do this. TFI is extremely pleased that Congress clearly spells out in the Farm Bill report language their intent for EQIP funds to be used for 4R practice implementation,” Ms Martin writes in her article.

The 4R principle for Nutrient Stewardship prescribes how fertilizer should be used from the right source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. The 4Rs can have a significant impact on grower profitability while being beneficial to the environment as well.

Structured data is key

Agworld’s structured data capabilities and reporting capabilities have been recognized by 4R participating retailers as superior for 4R audits. The Agworld platform is also found to be outstanding for retailers to collaborate with their growers on; something which is imperative to the success of the 4R program.

Agworld and the 4R program

Northwest Ohio based agricultural retail organization Luckey Farmers, Inc. have implemented Agworld and use the Agworld platform to structure their 4R program. Luckey Farmers’ IT Director Andrew Gladden explained in a recent case study: “The one thing we didn’t want (with the 4R program), was the burden of spreadsheets. The 4R program doesn’t care which fertilizer products are getting used on a particular field, it just wants to know the quantity of each element applied. We need to show when a field was last sampled, what the sampling results were, which crops were grown in the meantime and what the nutrient removal of these crops was.”

“We don’t want to have to worry about an abundance of error-prone spreadsheets and spend a lot of time figuring out the nutrient content of individual blends. Agworld products have a known nutrient make-up and when we run reports, it shows us exactly how many units of N, P, K etc. were used in a specific area; this is what Luckey Farmers needs to show for 4R reporting and that’s why our Agworld reports are extremely helpful. Agworld also shows us exactly which fields have not been sampled in the last 4 years and therefore need sampling before the next nutrient application; it’s functions like these that really make my life a lot easier.”

"For us, Agworld is making our 4R certification process a lot easier each year and the Agworld platform helps us connect to our growers on a level that allows them to be a partner in this process too. Whether it pertains to small or large growers, technologically sophisticated or more advanced operations; they are all part of the 4R process together with us and Agworld can offer all of them a strong link back to our organization.”

To read more about how Luckey Farmers are using Agworld to simplify their 4R process and increase grower engagement, ready the full case study here.

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