Nutrient stewardship is a science-based approach that offers enhanced environmental protection, increased production, increased farmer profitability, and improved sustainability. The concept is to use the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, with the right placement. Proper nutrient management provides economic, social, and environmental benefits to support regionally established goals. On the other hand, poorly managed nutrient applications can decrease a farmer's profitabilty and increase nutrient losses, potentially degrading the environment. A farmer's impplementation of the 4R nutrient stewardship principles are the same globally, but how practices are implemented locally will vary depending on field and site specific characteristics such as soil, cropping system management techniques, and climate. Documentation of 4R efforts and assessment of implementation results support continuous improvement toward identified goals.

Learn more about 4R principles on the 4R Nutrient Stewardship website.

In February 2016, The Fertilizer Institute's Board of Directors approved the 4R Nutrient Stewardship strategic plan in an effort to broaden the reach and implementation of the 4R program across the United States.


All plant nutrients are applied using a measurable and recognized 4R nutrient stewardship framework, evidenced through better crop performance, improved soil health, and cleaner air and water.


  • Crop production advisors enaging their customers on 4R Nutrient Stewardship and how it relates to environmental, economic, and social outcomes.
  • Understand the factors affecting nutrient movement within the environment and the role of nutrient best management practices to increase sustainability.
  • 4R practices are adopted by farmers in partnership with retailers, state agribusiness associations, and others.
  • Successful partnerships and prioritized implementation of 4R practices at the farm gate in key, issue-based geographies.
  • Develop an informed and knowledgeable stakeholder base.