4R Research: Meet the Researcher Dr. Patrick Brown

The FERT Foundation is home to 12 research projects that focus on fluid fertilizer and 4R optimization. Members had the opportunity to meet and learn about these projects during last week’s Fertilizer Research Forum. Each week we have been featuring a different researcher in this publication, and this week, we’d like you to meet 4R Researcher Patrick Brown.  

Researcher: Dr. Patrick Brown is the Professor of Plant Nutrition at the University of California, Davis – USA. He received his B.Sc. in 1984 from Adelaide University, Australia and Ph.D. from Cornell University, USA in 1988.  Dr. Brown has authored more than 250 scientific journal articles and numerous books and is among the highest cited experts in plant nutrition, biostimulants, boron, foliar fertilizers and horticulture. Dr. Brown is recognized globally as a leader in both basic and applied plant nutrition and has served as a member of numerous scientific and technical committees for governmental agencies including US-EPA, USDA, Californian Dept. Food and Ag and the International Standards Organization. Dr. Brown is a member of the IFA’s Science Panel for the Responsible Use of Fertilizers. Dr. Brown has received many awards national and international for excellence in research and extension. 

Project Name: Optimizing Potassium Management in Almond  

University: UC Davis  

Years Funded: 2021-2023 

4R Questions Addressed: Rate, Source, and Place  

Dr. Brown’s fluid project is designed to

  • Determine the extent and causes of in-field K variability 
  • Develop cost-effective methods to identify areas of differential K demand 
  • Development of optimized K- fertilization sources and strategies, including site-specific fertilization strategies suited to the modern fertigated orchard context 

TFI: Phosphate and Potash are Critical Minerals, Senate Bill to Solidify

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today praised the U.S. Senate for introducing bipartisan legislation to include phosphate and potash on the final list of critical minerals of the Department of the Interior. Introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Thom Tills (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), and Rick Scott (R-FL), the legislation will recognize the importance of ensuring a strong and sustainable domestic fertilizer supply for American farmers.

“We thank Senators Brown, Tillis, Baldwin, Marshall, Ricketts, and Scott for coming together and introducing this important legislation,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “The majority of the world’s phosphate and potash resources are concentrated in only a few countries, leaving them open to supply chain vulnerabilities and geopolitical instability. The events of the past few years have shown us that food security is national security and now is the time to change how we talk about these vital resources.”

The United States imports roughly 95% of its potash needs, the bulk of which come from Canada. Only 14 countries in the world produce potash, with Belarus and Russia comprising nearly 40% of global production. Regarding phosphate, China accounts for over 40% of global production.

“It is vital that we, as a country, take proactive steps to secure our own agricultural future by recognizing the role these minerals play in putting food on our tables,” Rosenbusch continued. “Without these two minerals, modern agricultural systems would crumble and the ability to feed our growing population would be nearly impossible.”

The U.S. has both phosphate and potash production, but expanding mines and opening new ones is a costly and time-consuming process measured in years and in the tens of millions of dollars for permitting alone. Being listed as critical minerals would not exclude these projects from environmental reviews, but would assign a single permitting agency to be responsible and streamline the process.

“By adding phosphate and potash to the Critical Minerals list, we can take a significant stride towards securing our own future and sending the clear message that safeguarding our nation’s food supply is not only an economic imperative, but a strategic priority that ensures our well-being,” Rosenbusch concluded. “We look forward to working with Congress to support this vital legislation.”

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Tune in to the Fertilizer 101 Podcast for Episode 2: Our Special Global Fertilizer Day Podcast

Join us in celebrating Global Fertilizer Day on October 13th with our “Fertilizer 101” podcast!

We’re thrilled to have TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch as our guest. In this episode, we discuss the importance of Global Fertilizer Day, the impact of the Haber-Bosch process on our modern world, and ways you can join the festivities. Whether you’re deeply rooted in the industry or simply curious about the magic behind flourishing gardens, this episode promises a wealth of knowledge.

Click here to listen and share

TFI Statement on SCOTUS WOTUS Decision

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) president and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today issued the below statement following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett vs. Environmental Protection Agency, a case central to Waters of the United States (WOTUS) policy.

“The Fertilizer Institute welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in Sackett v. EPA. The decision, which strikes down the “significant nexus” test in determining what is considered a Waters of the United States, is a win for agriculture. While regulatory interpretation from the EPA will take time, the SCOTUS decision is a great first step in providing the clarity that the fertilizer industry needs for long-term planning and capital investments that will allow us to continue providing the critical nutrients that feed the crops that feed our communities.”

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The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is the leading voice of the nation’s fertilizer industry. Tracing its roots back to 1883, TFI’s membership includes fertilizer producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms. TFI’s full-time staff, based in Washington, D.C., serves its members through legislative, educational, technical, economic information and public communication programs. Find more information about TFI online at TFI.org and follow us on Twitter at @Fertilizer_Inst. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org and on Twitter at @4rnutrients.

TFI Releases 2023-2024 Public Policy Priorities

ARLINGTON, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today released its list of 2023-2024 public policy priorities for working with the Biden Administration, regulatory agencies, and a closely divided 118th Congress.

“With the 118th Congress underway, we are strongly advocating for policies that ensure the fertilizer industry is able to continue feeding the world sustainably through innovation, efficiency, and legislative and regulatory updates that are long overdue,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “We’re also very much looking forward to engaging on the Farm Bill and finding bipartisan solutions that will strengthen farmers’ bottom lines and environmental stewardship.”

TFI’s priorities are broken down into seven key areas: Economic Growth & Competitiveness; Transportation & Infrastructure; Environment; Safety & Security; Farm Bill Reauthorization; Permitting & Registration; and Innovation.

“Fertilizer is a globally traded commodity and heavily influenced by geopolitical events. Over the past two years we have seen major market disruptions that make clear the need to strengthen domestic production,” Rosenbusch continued. “The Biden Administration’s $500 million grant program is a great start, but what the industry needs is significant change in permitting policy, and ensuring producers have access to critical inputs and affordable energy.”    

Those changes include reforming the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which sets forth a convoluted, time consuming, and expensive permitting process; the designation by the United States Geological Service (USGS) of phosphate and potash as critical minerals; and policies that ensure safe, secure, and reliable access to affordable energy.

“The Farm Bill for us is all about conservation and continuing to push for science-backed 4R Nutrient Stewardship adoption by growers and removing the existing barriers to grower adoption,” Rosenbusch said. “Policies we want to see included are recognizing Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) as Technical Service Providers (TSPs), which will enable greater cost-share opportunities for growers working with agricultural retailers. Additionally, we’re pushing for financial incentives to growers through use of the Conservation Service Model to utilize conservation and environmental best practices.”

Strengthening the domestic fertilizer industry and pushing for policies that promote grower adoption of nutrient stewardship practices are a heavy focus, but not the only ones eyed by TFI.

“Transportation and infrastructure are always big issues for us. Fertilizer needs to be delivered to growers exactly when and where they need it and there is not much room for error or delay,” Rosenbusch explained. “Supply chain disruptions have hit all industries hard, but fertilizer delays can lead to lower crop yields and less food. Fertilizer moves year-round via railways, highways, waterways, and pipelines, and we need a safe and reliable infrastructure network. Food security is national security, and fertilizer availability is paramount to keeping us all fed.”

Innovation and 4R research are two areas where TFI has hit the ground running, with the Plant Biostimulant Act and the ACE Agriculture Act both introduced in each chamber of Congress in March.

“Biostimulants are a relatively new innovation in agriculture,” Rosenbusch explained. “There is great potential in these products, but as with any new technology there are hurdles.”

Among the biggest of the hurdles mentioned by TFI’s Rosenbusch are the lack of a clear and consistent definition for “biostimulant” and the fact that there is no uniform framework to regulate them as plant nutrition products.

“TFI and our members are excited about biostimulants and we’re also introducing a Biostimulant Certification Program in the coming months. The aim of the program is to foster growth and farmer confidence in this innovative space,” said Rosenbusch.

The ACE Agriculture Act will help farmers by focusing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) research on critical areas such as soil health and increasing crop yields. The fertilizer industry has long supported agricultural research through the 4R Research Fund, as well as independent research that has focused on multiple crops, geographic locations, and methods to show farmers the beneficial outcomes of new technologies and farming practices. In addition to industry efforts through the 4R Research Fund, TFI is a year and a half into a nationwide goal of having 70 million US farming acres under 4R nutrient stewardship management by 2030.

“We’ve done the research and know that these practices have both environmental and economically beneficial outcomes associated with their implementation,” Rosenbusch continued. “But these practices are not one-size fits all and not only is each farm different, but each acre on each farm is unique and growers need to feel confident when implementing new practices. We believe more research directly from the USDA on these critical issues can only help farmers continue growing that confidence and lead to wider farmer adoption.”

TFI will use its member-driven public policy priorities to educate policymakers on the realities of an essential industry that is responsible for half of all food grown around the world. “Our industry is vital to ensuring our farmers can enrich the soil and grow the crops that feed the world and its growing population,” Rosenbusch concluded. “We look forward to working with the Biden Administration and the 118th Congress.”

TFI’s full list of 2023-2024 public policy priorities can be found here.

 

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The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is the leading voice of the nation’s fertilizer industry. Tracing its roots back to 1883, TFI’s membership includes fertilizer producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms. TFI’s full-time staff, based in Washington, D.C., serves its members through legislative, educational, technical, economic information and public communication programs. Find more information about TFI online at TFI.org and follow us on Twitter at @Fertilizer_Inst. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org and on Twitter at @4rnutrients.

The ACE Act Could Grow 4R Research

The Advancing Cutting Edge (ACE) Agriculture Act (S.834) was introduced in the US Senate by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) on March 16, 2023. The legislation will establish a new program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) called the ACE Agriculture Research and Extension Program, which would provide grants to universities, research institutions, and other organizations to conduct research and develop new technologies and practices in areas such as precision agriculture, plant and animal breeding, soil health, and water management.

The ACE Agriculture Act aims to promote innovation in American agriculture and help farmers and ranchers stay competitive in a rapidly changing global marketplace. By investing in research and development, the bill seeks to support adopting cutting-edge technologies and practices that can increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve sustainability in the agriculture sector, including research related to 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship, also known as the 4Rs, is an approach to fertilizer management that involves using the right source of fertilizer, at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place. This approach aims to optimize nutrient use efficiency and minimize nutrient losses to the environment, promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Studies have shown that using the 4R method has proven benefits, including reducing nutrient losses and increasing yields.

The 4R Research Fund was established to develop sustainability indicators and environmental impact data for the implementation of 4R Nutrient Stewardship across North America. The fund offers essential resources to measure and document the economic, social, and environmental impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship.

4R Research encompasses a broad range of studies related to nutrient management, including research on fertilizer formulation and application, soil health, crop yields, and environmental impacts. The 4R Research website,  https://www.4rresearch.org/us-funded-projects/, lists industry and government-funded research projects related to 4R Nutrient Stewardship, which can be a valuable resource for individuals interested in learning more about current research in this area.

The most important part of all research is finding ways it can be practically applied and publicly promoted. The 4R Advocates program is an initiative by The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) to recognize individuals and retailers who implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship concepts on their farms. Each year, some of the top 4R farmers and retailers in the U.S. are selected by TFI as annual 4R Advocates. These farms actively demonstrate the 4R Nutrient Stewardship concept, which is shown to maximize crop yields while minimizing nutrient loss to the environment and improving soil health.

The ACE Agriculture Act is related to 4R Research and 4R Nutrient Stewardship. It seeks to fund research on sustainable agricultural practices, including research related to 4R Nutrient Stewardship, to support the long-term sustainability and productivity of the U.S. agricultural sector. As part of its efforts to support sustainable agriculture, the ACE Agriculture Act includes funding for research on 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices, including plant and soil health, precision agriculture, and water management programs aimed at reducing the environmental impact of agriculture activities.

In addition to funding research, the ACE Agriculture Research and Extension Program would provide funding for extension services to help farmers and ranchers adopt new technologies and practices in their operations. This could include training and education on 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices, as well as other sustainable agriculture practices.

The ACE Agriculture Act and the 4R nutrient stewardship framework both aim to promote sustainable agriculture practices that can improve productivity, reduce costs, and improve environmental outcomes in the agriculture sector. The research funded by the ACE Agriculture Research and Extension Program could include studies on the 4R nutrient stewardship framework and its application in different agricultural systems. This could consist of adopting 4R practices by providing funding for research and development in areas such as precision agriculture, soil health, and water management. While the ACE Act will increase funding for new research and applied agricultural science, organizations like TFI are critical in sharing the importance and impact of these efforts with the public.

Corey Rosenbusch Testifies on Fertilizer Markets and Solutions to House Committee on Agriculture

“If there is one thing you take away from my comments, it is this: Fertilizer is a globally traded commodity, subject to international pressures and geopolitical events.” This emphatic statement was made by TFI president and CEO Corey Rosenbusch while testifying at a House Committee on Agriculture hearing on February 28th. The hearing, titled “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture,” lasted nearly 5 hours and focused heavily on market dynamics of the fertilizer industry and pressures currently facing the U.S. agricultural sector at large.

When asked what Congress can do to help ensure farmers continue to have access to a stable source of fertilizers, Rosenbusch pointed to the need for regulatory certainty as many factors affecting the fertilizer market are out of the control of Congress. Those factors include the international pressures and geopolitical events mentioned by Corey early in his testimony.

Prime examples of those factors are sanctions on Belarus, which supplies 20% of the world’s potash supply; China, which is a major exporter of fertilizers, but has imposed restrictions on fertilizer exports; and Russia, which has historically provided 20% of global fertilizer supplies as the world’s largest fertilizer exporter. “Domestic production of fertilizer accounts for only 7% of global production and 90% of all fertilizer usage happens outside of the United States,” Rosenbusch explained. “Geopolitical events have been the biggest disrupter to fertilizer markets in recent years.”

Energy policy is another area where Congress can provide relief by ensuring that fertilizer producers have an abundant and affordable supply of natural gas. Rosenbusch highlighted the fact that when Russia restricted much of Europe’s natural gas supply last year, approximately 70% of European nitrogen fertilizer production shutdown, leading to additionally market volatility.

The market news wasn’t all bad, though. Rosenbusch pointed out that in recent months fertilizer input costs have come down. European nitrogen plants have restarted as natural gas prices have moderated following a mild winter and China has been slowly exporting more fertilizer.

After providing the above examples of factors influencing fertilizer markets that are out of the control of Congress, Rosenbusch circled back to the regulatory certainty needed by the industry that Congress can provide, explaining that fertilizer production facilities are capital intensive and typically cost between $1-$4 billion to build. Rosenbusch also cited listing potash and phosphate as critical minerals, permitting reform to streamline long delayed fertilizer projects, focusing on USDA conservation programs that empower agronomists and certified crop advisors to help farmers with nutrient management, and a focus on supply chain bottlenecks through improving rail service and promoting driver recruitment and retention.

Click HERE to view the full recording of the House Committee on Agriculture hearing.

TFI CEO Rosenbusch Testifies at House Ag Committee Hearing on Agricultural Challenges

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today provided official testimony during the House Committee on Agriculture hearing Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture.

“Fertilizer is an essential tool for farmers to achieve the yields necessary to feed our growing world,” Rosenbusch said. “We appreciate the opportunity to shed light on current market dynamics and offer solutions to the pressures currently facing the U.S. agricultural sector. As always, the fertilizer industry is committed to ensuring adequate supply to meet farmer demand for the nutrients that are so essential to growing healthy and abundant crops.”

Rosenbusch focused much of his testimony on the fact that fertilizer is a globally traded commodity subject to international pressures and geopolitical events.

“Domestic production of fertilizer accounts for only 7% of global production and 90% of all fertilizer usage happens outside of the United States,” Rosenbusch continued. “Geopolitical events have been the biggest disrupter to fertilizer markets in recent years.”

The geopolitical events Rosenbusch referred to included sanctions on Belarus, which supplies 20% of the world’s potash supply; China, which is a major exporter of fertilizers, but last year imposed restrictions on fertilizer exports; and Russia, which has historically provided 20% of global fertilizer supplies as the world’s largest fertilizer exporter.

Rosenbusch then offered solutions and items Congress could act on to improve domestic production and supply.

“While Congress cannot control Russia and China, there are a number of areas where policy could have a positive impact on the agricultural sector,” Rosenbusch concluded. “Regulatory certainty is perhaps the most significant area Congress could help. Additionally, listing potash and phosphate as critical minerals, energy policy that supports an abundant and affordable supply of natural gas, permitting reform to streamline long delayed fertilizer projects, focusing on USDA conservation programs that empower agronomists and certified crop advisors to help farmers with nutrient management, and a focus on supply chain bottlenecks through improving rail service and promoting driver recruitment and retention.”

Rosenbusch’s oral statement can be found here

Rosenbusch’s full written testimony can be found here.

TFI’s full policy solutions document can be found here.   

 

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The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is the leading voice of the nation’s fertilizer industry. Tracing its roots back to 1883, TFI’s membership includes fertilizer producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms. TFI’s full-time staff, based in Washington, D.C., serves its members through legislative, educational, technical, economic information and public communication programs. Find more information about TFI online at TFI.org and follow us on Twitter at @Fertilizer_Inst. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org and on Twitter at @4rnutrients.

Fertilizer as Food Security

The world is facing a serious food shortage crisis. With the global population of 8 billion expected to grow by at least 30% over the next few decades, we need more food than ever before. Food security is a crucial issue for governments around the world—a growing population means more people need more food, but the amount of arable land available is not increasing. The United Nations states that there is currently a world food crisis in which over 1 billion people are facing starvation. Without further action, the crisis could worsen and possibly lead to a global catastrophe. Fertilizer is key to solving this problem. Just as it has been for thousands of years, fertilizer remains one of the most important elements in agriculture today.

Due to increased efficiency in farming with modern fertilizer use, we are seeing a new era in resource management. Fertilizer application is a key part of the food production system, helping make food more plentiful and affordable. It also provides farmers with better yields on the same land area or allows them to produce more food per acre with fewer resources such as water, seed and labor.

The responsible use of fertilizers helps increase the productivity of agricultural land by reducing soil nutrient depletion, increasing plant growth, and improving crop yields. For example, nitrogen use in the United States has increased corn yields from an average of about 40 bushels per acre in 1950 to around 175 bushels per acre in 2021. Exponential increases like this only serve to support the idea that fertilizer is an essential step towards solving issues of food security.

The world food crisis is an immense issue that requires attention and action. Fertilizer is indeed key to solving this problem, as it helps to increase crop yields and improve soil quality. This can provide much-needed nutrients to the soil, increasing food production and helping to alleviate the issue of starvation. We must work together to find sustainable solutions that can help to increase fertilizer production and access to it, as well as to educate people on the importance of fertilizer and how to use it effectively. By doing this, we can help to ensure that everyone has access to the food they need.