New federal research grant to study impact of 4R nutrient stewardship

The Fertilizer Institute
August 30, 2017
By The Fertilizer Institute
The Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR) has been selected to receive a $1 million research grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR) to study the impact suites of 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices have on the movement of nutrients in corn and soybean cropping systems. The grant is matched with $1 million in funds from the 4R Research Fund.

"The lack of data that links the agronomic and environmental benefits of 4R practices across a wide variety of conditions is a critical information gap that needs be addressed," said Chris Jahn, President of The Fertilizer Institute. "With this research, we hope to qualify and quantify the impact of using the 4Rs in order to give certainty to farmers, and sound guidance to environmental programs, and policy decision makers."

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a science-based fertilizer management approach that offers enhanced environmental protection, increased production and farmer profitability, and improved sustainability. The concept is to use the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place.

For fertilizer use to be sustainable, it must support cropping systems that provide economic, social, and environmental benefits. Soil health is directly linked to farming systems that preserve or increase soil carbon, especially on soils requiring artificial drainage. What little research is available shows a delicate balance between reducing nutrient losses through nutrient management while maintaining or improving soil carbon and thus soil health.

"We have been working in partnership with the fertilizer industry, universities, NGOs, and government agencies in developing metrics evaluating the effects of 4Rs with the support of the 4R Fund for several years," said Dr. Terry Roberts, President of the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). FAR is the research foundation of IPNI. "This new grant will allow us to advance our knowledge and expand the data linking agronomic and environmental performance of 4R practices."

FAR will work with researchers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Ontario, Canada to quantify the impact of 4R Nutrient Stewardship on crop yield, soil health, nutrient use efficiencies, nutrient losses with leaching, and gaseous nitrogen losses. The work will be coordinated across the sites to simulate the practices in different geographic areas.

Current cooperating institutions include: Iowa State University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; University of Illinois, College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Purdue University, College of Agriculture; University of Minnesota; National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment – Agricultural Research Service; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The 4R Research Fund was established by The Fertilizer Institute, Fertilizer Canada, and the International Plant Nutrition Institute, to advance 4R Nutrient Stewardship. To date, the fund has awarded $4.8 million to research institutions, and through additional matching dollars, increased 4R research support to $11 million. Learn more: nutrientstewardship.com/research.

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