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Fluid Journal : Late Spring 2013
23 The Fluid Journal Late Spring 2013 23 and resources, partnerships, industry outreach, and advocacy efforts. Outreach. Educational tools and resources are increasingly available. Some examples follow. In 2012, IPNI released the 4R Plant Nutrition Manual, which addresses the scientific principles behind each of the 4Rs, adoption of farm practices, approaches to nutrient management planning, and measurement of sustainability performance. Three times this year the Certified Crop Advisor organization is offering an eight-week webinar series entitled "4R Approach to Soil and Water Quality." Furthermore, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI), in conjunction with Iowa State University, IPNI, and NRCS, will soon be releasing a set of online learning modules focused on the 4Rs. Outreach to industry peers, federal and state agencies, growers, and the general public is important to the success of 4R and visibility of the 4Rs across the agricultural landscape is necessary to show a unified effort. Partnerships are key to outreach and visibility. Becoming a 4R Partner better enables an entity to act as an influencer and educator among employees, grower customers, and members of the community by providing tools and resources needed to spread the word regarding benefits associated with the 4Rs. Partners embrace 4R Nutrient Stewardship, promote the 4R initiative, and implement the 4R scientific principles. The 4Rs provide a clear framework, a succinct message, and the opportunity to address water quality and crop production concerns. Opportunities for engagement are abundant: • Expand your 4R knowledge with available tools • Be a 4R advocate at local watershed and state agency meetings • Engage with NRCS and conservation districts and explore opportunities for using the 4Rs • Increase implementation of 4Rs on the farm by broadening suites of practices and services offered through your organization • Raise the visibility of the 4Rs while marketing your services and products • Educate other agricultural stakeholder groups about 4R nutrient stewardship • Encourage participation and advocacy and be a voice for agriculture. 4R fund. As a result of increasing 4R outreach and implementation efforts, there is a heightened awareness of research gaps regarding fertilizer practices in cropping systems and the effects of those practices on the environment. More than ever, there is a need for agricultural stakeholders to work together to establish metrics and quantification mechanisms to evaluate the impact and performance of our practices on production and the environment. Presently, the industry is exposed to risks stemming from: • Incomplete research and science regarding environmental effects of nutrients implemented with appropriate best management practices (BMPs) • Erosion of the agronomy and soil science research community necessary to maintain the science supporting fertilizer use • Reduction of governmental funding in agronomic areas. This year, TFI, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI) and IPNI collaboratively created a northern American 4R Research Fund. The fund was established to advance growth of nutrient stewardship, enhance credibility of the 4R framework, develop performance indicators and environmental impact data, and leverage government and stakeholder funds to expand the research agenda. The program will also enable industry to expedite BMP technology transfer, outreach, and education to achieve a broader and sustained 4R implementation. TFI and CFI membership will collectively contribute seven million dollars to the 4R Research Fund over a five-year period, and contributions from other stakeholders are sought. Collected funds are being maintained by the Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR), which is responsible for the Research Fund, including its administration and management. To briefly summarize, the IPNI, through FAR, is responsible for management of the Fund and the research activities initiated under it. An industry-led Fund Management Committee has been established to provide policy direction and is responsible for final selection of the projects to be undertaken. A Technical Advisory Group consisting of industry agronomists, academics, and agency personnel from the United States and Canada will advise and provide support to the management committee. For the technical group, individuals were selected with expertise in agronomic practices that include soil, air and water, cropping systems and ecological sustainability, modeling, and monitoring. Initial high priority research needs evolved from a survey of IPNI scientists in North America and needs were further refined through discussions at an organizational meeting held in 2012. With input from a cross-section of the North American fertilizer industry, research objectives were identified and specific issues were discussed. Factors considered in these discussions included potential impact of the specific researchable issue based on fertilizer tonnage, the acreage and crop value involved, ecosystem vulnerability, political capital and leveraging potential, collaboration potential (universities and government), and collateral benefits. The overarching objectives for funded projects are to: • Validate efficacy of practices resulting from combinations of source, rate, timing, and placement decisions • Evaluate environmental impact per unit of production in high yield systems • Integrate, publish, and disseminate research results to substantiate to stakeholders that practice changes will provide genuine environmental and economic benefits. Looking ahead A comprehensive literature analysis regarding 4R practices is expected to be performed during the first year of the research fund. Results of the analysis will help inform decisions made regarding use of the research fund. Specifically, the analysis will likely identify data gaps, including specific information to be collected for determination of performance indicators and environmental impacts. There are significant opportunities to leverage funds with both government and non-governmental partners. The USDA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have indicated a willingness to work collaboratively on this effort. Furthermore, there are opportunities to help inform state fertilizer assessment and commodity group research programs. Lara Moody is Director of Stewardship Programs at the Fertilizer Institute (email@example.com).
Early Spring 2013