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Fluid Journal : Late Spring 2013
21 The Fluid Journal Late Spring 2013 4Rs On Fertile Ground World population is expected to increase from seven billion today to nine billion by 2050. The result will be more people to feed and, very likely, fewer acres on which to produce the needed food, ultimately leading to intensified production. Striving to achieve the necessary higher yields will increase attention on inputs (seed, crop protection, and fertilizer). As members of the global community, we are faced with the challenge of increasing food production in an economically viable way while simultaneously retaining the ecological integrity of food systems; that is, we must increase production to feed the world without adversely affecting the environment. We also must never forget that the public sector at all levels of government and society broadly looks to agriculture to address both perceived and real negative environmental impacts. One has only to look to the various media outlets for available facts and commentary addressing nutrient pollution to realize that these demands are clearly growing in many areas across North America. Pressure on state agencies is increasing The Fluid Journal • Official Journal of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation • Late Spring 2013 • Vol. 21, No. 3, Issue # 81 Lara Moody A new way of stewardship for improving management of plant nutrition. Summary: Agriculture faces a challenge to increase food production without adversely affecting the environment. As a component of increased yields and as one source of nutrients in the environment, fertilizer inputs receive increased attention and scrutiny. Best management practices, such as the 4R nutrient steward program, are helping assure fertilizer nutrients will be kept in the root zone for plant use and out of surface and ground waters. Preventing nutrient loss protects the environment and the grower’s return on investment. Multiple stakeholders are also exploring and creating opportunities to increase the implementation and adoption of fertilizer best management practices, which will benefit agriculture mightily. However, the increased attention to better management practices has also highlighted the need for a greater focus on science and the need to establish metrics and quantification mechanisms to evaluate the impact and performance of industry fertilizer practices on production and the environment. to develop strategies to address nutrient losses from non-point sources, including cropping systems. Litigation by environmental activist groups and actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are two sources of that pressure. In a 2011 memo to its regional administrators, the EPA sought state collaboration and action to protect state waters from nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Within the memo, the EPA provided a guidance document entitled “Recommended Elements of a State Nutrients Framework.” In the memo, the EPA encourages states to work collaboratively with their stakeholders to develop innovative approaches for addressing non-point source runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Fertilizer use is currently responsible for 50 percent of the world’s food supply. Unmanaged nutrient applications can increase nutrient losses and potentially degrade air and water quality, yet ignoring fertilizer needs would result in decreased soil fertility and decreased yields. Policymakers, environmental groups, and the media sometimes focus on fertilizers as a problem for the environment while overlooking the vital role of nutrients to help meet the food needs of a growing world population. There is not a one-size- fits-all-answer to this challenge; however, fertilizer best management practices that are good for the grower and good for the environment are clearly one part of the solution. USDA findings In 2011, the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) Conservation Effectiveness Assessment Program (CEAP) began issuing regional reports evaluating the level of implementation and the effect of practices on nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment losses (USDA NRCS, 2013). A common finding among the reports was voluntary practices work and practices to reduce erosion help control surface runoff of particulate phosphorus. They further concluded that to reduce nutrient losses, nutrient management addressing fertilizer form, amount, timing, and placement method must be used in combination with other conservation practices. The USDA findings closely mirror efforts within the fertilizer industry to DOWNLOAD PDF
Early Spring 2013