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About Fertilizer Canada

Using 4R Nutrient Stewardship On-Farm: What’s In It 4R Me?

4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) is a science-based framework offering verified best management practices proven to increase crop yields and economic return while reducing environmental impacts such as greenhouse gases and nutrient losses to water.

Modern day farming has come a long way, benefitting from decades of innovations that have made agriculture a powerhouse Canadian industry. The farms of today are more than just fields of crops, they’re businesses sustaining thousands of jobs, the economy and generations of families.

For Morgan Smallman, a sixth-generation potato farmer on Prince Edward Island, implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship on his farm is a way to ensure he has something viable to leave his kids – and his grandkids – like his father before him.

“For me, it’s about sustainability,” he said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with our soil and the crops that we’re growing, so that we’re able to do it for a long time.”

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a framework of science-based, verified best management practices that are proven to improve soil health, crop yields and profitability while reducing environmental impacts such as greenhouse gases and nutrient losses to water. Smallman has been working with a local agronomist for over five years to get tailored fertilizer source, rate, time and placement advice for his specific cropping needs and is seeing the benefits of enhanced efficiency fertilizers and split application

“For example, we’ve been decreasing the application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer at the beginning of the season and spreading it out, using foliars and slow-releases under the guidance of the 4Rs,” he said, adding that this leads to a better overall return on this fertilizer investment and a benefit at harvest.

While the economic return is key for the business side of his farm, it’s the environmental aspect that keeps his interest in continuing to implement the 4Rs on his farm.

“I think everybody is looking for ways to be sustainable and to make their environmental footprint a little smaller,” Smallman said. “Just to be able to take part in and take a proactive role to be environmentalists on the farm side should encourage other growers,” he said.

“The bottom line is that we have to take care of our soil to see long-term success on the farm, and the 4Rs is the way to do that.”

Learn more about 4R Nutrient Stewardship at fertilizercanada.ca.