Our Focus Stewardship Emissions Reduction Initiative

Canada must #Choose4R.

We don’t have to choose between the environment and feeding the world. Farmers have chosen 4R Nutrient Stewardship, a science-based approach that reduces environmental impacts while supporting Canadian farmers and families.

Canadian Farmer’s play a leading role in Canadian food production

Canada must choose 4R Nutrient Stewardship to meet Canada’s emission reduction targets

In December 2020, the federal government set a voluntary national fertilizer emissions reduction target of 30 per cent below 2020 levels by 2030. While agriculture must do its part in limiting the impacts of climate change, emission reduction strategies must balance the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer application against farm profitability, economic growth and global food security.

Canadian farmers are already among the most sustainable growers in the world, they have less room to lower fertilizer emissions without compromising food production than those in other countries. As there are only eight growing seasons until 2030. To meet its climate goals, Canada must follow the leadership of Canadian farmers and go all-in on 4R Nutrient Stewardship. Choosing 4R will reduce environmental impacts while supporting Canadian farmers and families.

76,000 Jobs

Canada’s fertilizer industry also supports over 76,000 jobs directly and indirectly throughout the supply chain.

$13 Billion

Canada’s fertilizer industry contributes nearly $13 billion to Canada’s GDP.

USD $5.6 Billion

In 2019 Canada exported USD $5.6 billion in fertilizer.

15 Years

Canadian farmers have used the 4Rs to reduce fertilizer emissions for the last 15 years.


As a result, Canada’s nitrogen use-efficiency exceeds the worlds average, currently sitting at 78%.

6 Million

As of 2021 there are over 6 million validated acres under 4R management in Canada.

Innovation Driving Sustainable Farming  

Innovative fertilizer products are helping farmers reduce emissions while protecting crop yields, helping them fight climate change while growing the nutritious food our world needs. Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs) are fertilizer additives that control nutrient release or alter reactions in the soil. EEFs can include products with a special coating that helps to slow the release of nutrients into the soil (like polymer coated urea), or can include supplements, like urease and/or nitrification inhibitors, that are used with Nitrogen fertilizers to slow reactions and keep the fertilizer in the soil longer, reducing emissions.

EEFs can be the Right Source of Fertilizer for growers that helps them achieve another 4R, the Right Time. By slowing down reactions in the soil with fertilizer nutrients, the nutrients stay in the soil longer giving the crop more time to take them up. In turn, this reduces nutrient losses from the field in the form of GHG emissions and leached nitrate (nitrogen)( De Laporte et al. 2021). By Improving the synchrony of fertilizer nutrient supply with crop demand, EEFs improve nutrient use efficiency (NUE) and reduce risk of nutrient loss from the field (Grant & Wu 2008).

EEFs are scientifically proven to reduce emissions from fertilizer application and are an advanced 4R best management practice. They are also featured in Canada’s fertilizer emission reduction strategy and Sustainable Agriculture Strategy for the direct and indirect benefit they provide. Both international and Canadian scientific literature supports the finding that inhibitors reduce net N2O emissions by 32-42 per cent (Fan et al. 2022, Thilakarathna et al. 2020).


Canadian farmers are growing more to increase food security at home and help feed the world

2 Billion People

The world’s population is estimated to grow by approximately 2 billion people by 2050.

50% Growth

Global agriculture production will need to increase by 50 per cent to feed all these people.

Canadian farmers rely on nitrogen-based fertilizers to increase the amount of food they grow to keep up with global demand. This helps put food on the tables of Canadians and feed a growing global population. It also supports Canada reaching its target of $75 billion in agri-food exports by 2025.

By choosing 4R Nutrient Stewardship Canadian farmers have become some of the most sustainable growers in the world

Right Source

Matches fertilizer type to crop needs.

Right Rate

Matches amount of fertilizer to crop needs.

Right Time

Matches nutrients available when crops need them.

Right Place

Keeps nutrients where crops can use them.

For the last decade and a half, Canadian farmers have worked hard to reduce emissions from fertilizer by adopting 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The 4R approach was developed in partnership with leading scientists, farm organizations and provincial governments to reduce agriculture’s environmental impact without compromising farmers’ competitiveness.

Economic Report(s)

The Economics of 4R BMP Implementation and Emissions Reductions from Fertilizer

Fertilizer Agri-Economics Report Brief

Fertilizer Agri-Economics Report Executive Summary

Implications of a Total Emissions Reduction Target on Fertilizer – Full Report

News Release(s)

Canada Can Reduce GHG Emissions from Fertilizer Use Without Jeopardizing Food Security, New Report Says

New Report Warns of Potential for $48 Billion Loss in Farm Income if Fertilizer Reductions are Required of Growers


Environment 101

Industry 101

Safety 101

Choosing 4R to Meet the National Emissions Reduction Target for Fertilizer: Two Pager

Emissions Reduction Initiative Report

Fertilizer Canada’s Response to AAFC’s Discussion Paper

Fertilizer Agri-Economics Report FAQ

Nitrogen 101

Transport 101

Potash 101

Products 101

Implications of a Total Emissions Reduction Target on Fertilizer: MNP Report


Media Appearance(s)

Canadian farmers are world leaders in food production and environmental sustainability

Will the federal government cap synthetic fertilizer use?

Government Submission(s)

Fertilizer Canada’s Response to AAFC’s Discussion Paper

AAFC Memorandum of Cooperation Request


Grant, C., & Wu, R. (2008). Enhanced-efficiency fertilizers for use on the Canadian Prairies. Crop Management, 7(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1094/cm-2008-0730-01-rv  

De Laporte, A., Banger, K., Weersink, A., Wagner-Riddle, C., Grant, B., & Smith, W. (2021). Economic and environmental nitrate leaching consequences of 4R nitrogen management practices including use of inhibitors for corn production in Ontario. Journal of Environmental Management, 300, 113739. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113739Fan, D., He, W., Smith, W. N., Drury, C. F., Jiang, R., Grant, B. B., Shi, Y., Song, D., Chen, Y., Wang, X., He, P., & Zou, G. (2022). Global evaluation of inhibitor impacts on ammonia and nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural soils: A meta‐analysis. Global Change Biology, 28(17), 5121–5141. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16294 

Thilakarathna, S.K., Hernandes-Ramiresz, G., Puurveen, D., Kryzanowski, L., Lohstraeter, G., Powers, L. A., Quan, N., & Tenuta, M. (2020). Nitrous oxide emissions and nitrogen use efficiency in wheat: Nitrogen fertilization timing and formulation, soil nitrogen, and weather effects. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 84(6): 1910-1927. 


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Canada must choose 4R Nutrient Stewardship to meet Canada’s emission reduction targets