Documenting 4R nutrient application practices for environmental and regulatory purposes is about to get much easier for agricultural retailers in Illinois. The program is being developed by a partnership between the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) and Champaign-based Agrible, Inc. Once implemented, the program will capture and document the metrics of all nutrient applications made to meet 4R practices, including the right source, right rate, right time to apply and the right placement.
“We are combining the stewardship commitment of Illinois fertilizer dealers and crop advisers to implement 4R practices with Agrible’s ability to capture this information and document continued progress over time,” said Jean Payne, President of the IFCA. “We will be able to demonstrate the progress that Illinois agriculture is making to reduce nutrient losses and to ensure that these practices support a sustainable, profitable future for nutrient use in Illinois crop production.”
By the year 2025, the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (INLRS) will require a reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus losses by 15% and 25%, respectively, to improve water quality in Illinois and in the water that leaves Illinois and reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Launched in 2015, the INLRS was jointly developed by state and federal agencies, agricultural groups, water treatment and water supply officials, environmental groups and university scientists.
These groups work collaboratively to define and implement practices and technologies that will reduce nutrient losses from multiple sources, including not just agriculture but also wastewater treatment facilities and storm water runoff.
“This program provides useful metrics and tools to both retailers and growers to track the tenants of the 4Rs and enables retailers to be more valuable to their growers,” said Karl Barnhart, Chief Marketing Officer for Brandt in Springfield. “Agrible recognizes the critical role that the retailer plays in grower relationships. The retailer must be successful if the grower is to be successful, and vice versa.”
Barnhart adds that Illinois is ahead of the game in terms of the agricultural industry self-policing itself. Even though the 4R effort is voluntary, a lot is being accomplished by both retailers and growers in terms of compliance and possibly heading future regulation off at the pass, according to Barnhart. “A lot is being accomplished on local levels throughout the state,” the retailer said. “But we need a larger perspective in order to get the big picture. This IFCA and Agrible platform has no boundaries.”