Be the Change for Clean Water

Farm 4R Future Message Toolkit

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Improve your bottom line by practicing the 4Rs. Use the right source at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement. Consult the Tri-state Fertilizer Recommendations and your 4R certified Crop Advisor before applying nutrients.

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The 4Rs. For many of us the first thought that comes to mind is the old “School Days” tune and the golden rule of learning reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and everyone’s favorite, recess. While no doubt these things were all important to us as children, the golden rule for agriculture today is the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship: Right fertilizer source at the Right rate at the Right time and in the Right place. Properly managed fertilizers support agricultural systems that provide economic, social and environmental benefits. On the other hand, poorly managed nutrient applications can waste time and money while increasing nutrient losses, potentially degrading water and air. 4R nutrient stewardship requires the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that optimize the efficiency of fertilizer use. The goal of fertilizer BMPs is to balance amount of fertilizer added with crop requirements and to minimize nutrient losses from fields. Selection of BMPs varies by location, and those chosen for a given site are dependent on local soil and climatic conditions, crop management conditions and other site-specific factors. Other agronomic and conservation practices, such as no-till farming, cover crops, buffer strips, and crop rotation play a valuable role in supporting 4R nutrient stewardship. As a result, fertilizer BMPs are most effective when applied in conjunction with other agronomic and conservation practices. Combining these practices not only fosters nutrient stewardship, but can increase yields and improve soil health and resiliency in the long term. To learn more about 4R nutrient stewardship visit: You can also visit your local Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service Office.

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