A Sustainable Future with 4R Advocates

Last week, TFI congratulated the 2023 4R Advocates. These are outstanding farmers and retailers, whose continued dedication towards soil management serves as evidence of the safe and beneficial use of fertilizer. The 4Rs, using the right source at the right rate, right time, and right place, allow for better nutrient use by plants, leading to greater crop productivity, reduced environmental losses, and greater farm profits. All of these are needed to ensure farming can be sustainable.

Sustainable farming is important because it helps to ensure the ongoing availability of healthy food sources, while preserving our environment and protecting the planet’s natural resources. Sustainability in agriculture is made up of three pillars: protecting the environment and natural resources, economic profitability and viability, and provision of ecosystem services necessary for farmers and society. 4R farming practices are a sustainable farming practice that helps to reduce the use, but increase the efficiency, of fertilizers. Using 4R practices, along with other sustainable farming practices, also helps to improve air, water, and soil quality, while promoting the long-term health of our planet.

4R is a sustainable farming practice that focuses on producing food in a way that is both environmentally friendly and economically viable. It is an integrated system for nutrient management that helps to conserve natural resources without decreasing food production. 4R also helps to maintain healthy soils by ensuring soils contain adequate nutrients for crops and prevents nutrient depletion that can be taxing on soil microbes. Other sustainable farming practices include reduced tillage, crop rotation, integrated pest management, and the use of cover crops. By using 4R practices, farmers can create a more efficient and profitable agricultural system that is better for the environment.

4R advocates are incredibly important, as they work not only to ensure that our food sources are healthy and viable for future generations but also to show both the public and policymakers that fertilizer can play a safe and responsible role in crop production. 4R advocates strive to reduce the environmental impact of fertilizer, increase yields, and improve the livelihoods of farmers and the health of their communities. They also work to ensure that the land and water are managed in an efficient and sustainable manner, as well as promote access to healthy, and nutritious food. Sustainable farming advocates are essential to ensure that our food systems are resilient and able to withstand the challenges of climate change and other environmental pressures.

More information on 4R farming can be found here

TFI Urges Speedy Rail-Labor Union Contract Settlement

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today thanked members of the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) for hearing from both rail carriers and their labor unions and providing measured recommendations on a pending contract agreement between the two. TFI urges all parties to swiftly reach a compromise and contract agreement. Both sides have until Sept. 16 to evaluate the PEB’s recommendations during a mandated 30-day cooling-off period.

“Uncertainty of this nature is yet another disruption in an already complex environment for farmers, so speedy resolution is paramount,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “Over half of all fertilizer moves by rail year-round throughout the United States and the timeliness and reliability of fertilizer shipments is absolutely critical. If farmers do not receive fertilizer, it results in lower crop yields, higher food prices, and more inflation for consumers.”

 

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Communicating the 2021 Sustainability in the Fertilizer Industry Report

Each year, The Fertilizer Institute collects data from member companies to track and highlight industry improvement in sustainability performance in key priority areas of workforce safety, energy and the environment, fertilizer use, and industry innovation. The 2021 report was released in February of this year.

However, this data can be of no benefit if we don’t properly communicate. Earlier this month, TFI’s team hosted a webinar walking through the data and providing tools and resources for how members can help TFI tell the industry’s sustainability story. The webinar is available to view by clicking the link below, and we encourage you to contact TFI’s Manager, Communications, Morgaine Mertz-Myers with any questions about sharing the data.

View webinar

TFI Engages with Congressional Ag Committee Members

ARLINGTON, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today issued the following statement after participating in a roundtable discussion regarding fertilizer markets with House Republican Members and staff of the Committee on Agriculture.

“Fertilizer is an essential tool for farmers to achieve desired yields and we appreciate the opportunity to offer solutions to the current market pressures with members of the Agriculture Committee. During this busy spring planting season – and throughout the year – 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.

The effects of COVID-19, extreme weather disruptions, rising energy prices, facility maintenance, geopolitical events, and export bans have dramatically affected our marketplace.  As a globally traded commodity, supply and demand economics drive the fertilizer markets, and ninety percent of the world’s fertilizer is consumed outside the United States. Fertilizer feeds the food that feeds the world, so the issues our industry faces significantly impact global food security. Tackling the challenges to the world’s food supply truly requires collaboration, innovation and partnerships, and we welcome this and future opportunities to discuss these solutions.”

 

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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 Statement on USDA Fertilizer Innovation Initiative

Two out of every five people alive today owe their lives to the use of fertilizer and TFI welcomes initiatives to strengthen domestic fertilizer production including the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $250 million grant program to support the development and production of innovative fertilizers.  

Innovation has been the hallmark of the fertilizer industry. Enhanced efficiency fertilizers and other new technologies play a big role in our ability to feed a growing population efficiently and sustainably. While new products are the focus of today’s announcement, it’s important to recognize the innovative work undertaken by companies in the U.S. market, who have made a strong comeback from the days of high natural gas prices to leverage the shale gas revolution.

We have a more robust U.S. fertilizer industry than we have seen in two decades. By enacting policies that encourage safe, abundant, and affordable supplies of natural gas, which is the chief feedstock for nitrogen production, ensuring that permitting of production plants is streamlined and adding phosphate and potash to the Department of the Interior’s Critical Minerals list, policymakers can also support this vital industry.

The fertilizer industry’s investment in innovation has been longstanding. Most recently, TFI partnered with USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other key stakeholders on the Next Gen Fertilizer Challenges. Collectively, the challenges aim to accelerate the development of innovative fertilizer product technologies and to increase the use of existing enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFS) that maintain or increase crop yields and reduce environmental impacts to air, land, and water.

Additionally, we look forward to providing USDA with data for its RFI.  Fertilizer is resource dependent, capital intensive, and requires high-skilled labor and expertise to safely produce, handle, transport, and store. Ninety percent of all fertilizer in the world is used outside the United States, which means that globally supply and demand dynamics are critical factors in the price and availability of fertilizers. Still, when compared to peer sectors around the world, the U.S. fertilizer industry is among the most competitive and environmentally advanced. 

 

TFI’s 4R Advocate Program Now Accepting 2022 4R Advocate Nominations

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2021 – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is now accepting nominations for the 2022 4R Advocate awards. This program recognizes farmers and fertilizer retailers for their commitment to sound nutrient stewardship using the 4Rs, or the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place. Through these 4R farming practices, farmers improve their return on their nutrient inputs and decrease environmental impact. The announcement was made by TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today during the opening session of the InfoAg Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 4R Advocate program highlights farmers’ partnerships with their retailers or certified agronomists throughout the year and demonstrates to the fertilizer industry, the agricultural community, and policymakers the real-world benefits the 4Rs deliver on the farm and in communities.

Advocate nominations are due no later than Friday, October 31, 2021. Details, materials, and entry forms for retailers and industry partners to nominate farmers are available online at nutrientstewardship.org/advocates/become-an-advocate/. Entry forms offer easy directions for farmers and retailers to document their efforts to apply the 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles and to chart results. Applicants can also read previous winners’ stories on the same website.

The 2022 Advocates will spend the next year supporting TFI-sponsored 4R activities, as well as serve as 4R representatives within their businesses and communities during educational events and special presentations.

The 2022 4R Advocate winners will be announced in mid-December. They will participate in an all-expense-paid trip to the 2021 Commodity Classic, scheduled for March 10-12, 2022, in New Orleans, Louisiana. TFI will honor the 4R Advocate growers and nominating retailers during an awards banquet that takes place during the event.

To date, 100 4R Advocates from 25 states, representing nearly one-quarter million acres have been recognized. They grow crops that include apples, alfalfa, cabbage, collard greens, corn, cotton, hops, peanuts, rice, soybeans, strawberries, tomatoes, and more.

The 4R Advocate program is one of many facets of a high-priority campaign to raise awareness and adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices. Fertilizer is a key component of sustainable crop production systems, and the fertilizer industry recognizes the need to efficiently utilize these nutrients. 4R Advocates and other farmers have partnered with The Fertilizer Institute to demonstrate how 4R practices have led to cost-efficiencies and improved environmental outcomes on their fields. More information and data on their efforts is available at 4RFarming.org.

As 4R Nutrient Stewardship management practices grow in popularity among farmers, the industry has gained additional support for the practices from allied industry groups such as Certified Crop Advisors, Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, and The Nature Conservancy.

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The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) is the leading voice of the nation’s fertilizer industry. TFI’s membership includes fertilizer producers, wholesalers, retailers and trading firms. TFI serves its members through legislative, educational, technical and economic information and public communication programs. Find more information about TFI online at TFI.org. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org.

Fertilizer Industry Sustainability Record Continues to Improve According to New Industry Data

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2021 – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today released new data highlighting industry improvement in sustainability performance in key priority areas of workforce safety, energy and the environment, fertilizer use, and industry innovation.

“The fertilizer industry has always been focused on feeding the world, and as technology advances, we are looking to do that with minimal impact to our communities and environment,” said Corey Rosenbusch, TFI president and CEO. “This data quantifies improvements and tracks progress over time, allowing us to present a transparent picture of the industry in an effort to earn the public’s trust in our products and services.”

TFI has collected data since 2013 on metrics that provide insight into the industry’s efforts to improve safety, security, sustainability, stewardship, and efficiency. The data announced today was gathered in 2020 and reflects industry operations in 2019.

Report highlights include:

  • The industry is more than twice as safe as industry peers when compared to benchmark data from the Department of Labor.
  • The industry’s performance on the recordable rate metric is the safest it’s been since data collection began in 2013.
  • To reduce the industry’s energy footprint, 41 percent of all energy consumed is generated using waste heat rather than pulling from the electrical grid.
  • In 2019, the industry captured 29 percent of all CO2 generated per ton of nutrient produced. These greenhouse gases are not emitted into the atmosphere and are used for other industrial uses.
  • Nitrogen producers are using 53 percent less water to produce one ton of fertilizer than they did in 2013.

The data includes metrics on segments of the fertilizer industry from fertilizer use on the farm, worker safety, energy and environment, and industry innovation. To learn more about this year’s State of the Fertilizer Industry report, visit fertilizerreport.org.

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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.

2021 4R Advocates Represent More Than 31,000 Acres Managed Under Sustainable 4R Fertilizer Practices

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2021 – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced today it is recognizing 10 new farmers and retailers as 4R Advocates. This honor is bestowed upon select pairs who play a crucial role in showcasing the real-world economic and environmental benefits of implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles. Now in its 10th year, the 4R Advocate program demonstrates the in-field successes of implementing 4R practices based on the right source, rate, time, and placement of fertilizer.

“For 10 years, TFI has honored agricultural retailers and farmers who do more than just talk the talk when it comes to 4R Nutrient Stewardship,” said Corey Rosenbusch, TFI president and CEO. “I am continually amazed by the passion and dedication these advocates bring to their work and livelihoods, and we are excited to work with them in the coming year.”

4R Advocates recognized since 2012 collectively farm more than 246,000 acres on a variety of cropping systems in 25 states. The 2021 class of 4R Advocates represents 31,745 acres and three new states – Alabama, Arkansas, and California.

This year’s Advocates are:

  • Myron Johnson, Double J Farms, Headland, Ala.
    Drew Schrimsher, GreenPoint Ag, Decatur, Ala.
     
  • Zack Brown, Zack Brown Farms, Success, Ark.
    James Varvil, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Corning, Ark.
     
  • Brenda Wolgamott, The Wine Group, Rippon, Calif.
    Rebecca Kaupp, Helena Agri Enterprises, Salinas, Calif.
     
  • Janette Veazey-Post, Lamb Farms Inc., Oakfield, N.Y.
    David DeGolyer, Western New York Crop Management Association, Warsaw, N.Y.
     
  • Stephen Paget, Simplot Grandview Farms, Burbank, Wash.,
    Jack Jensen, Simplot Grower Solutions, Pasco, Wash.

Throughout the year the Advocates will be included in TFI’s outreach efforts to promote fertilizer management practices by hosting farm field days, participating in conference panels, and speaking on behalf of 4Rs to their farming peers.

The 4R Advocate program is one of many facets of a high-priority campaign to raise awareness and adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices. Fertilizer is a key component of sustainable crop production systems, and the fertilizer industry recognizes the need to efficiently utilize these nutrients. 4R Advocates and other farmers have partnered with The Fertilizer Institute to demonstrate how 4R practices have led to cost-efficiencies and improved environmental outcomes on their fields. More information and data on their efforts is available at 4RFarming.org.

4R Nutrient Stewardship provides a framework to achieve in-field goals, such as increased production and profitability, enhanced environmental protection, and improved sustainability. The 4R concept incorporates practices that use the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place.

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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. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org 

TFI & Biostimulant Coalition Unite to Focus on Regulatory Approval Improvements

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today announced that it and the Biostimulant Coalition have reached a formal agreement to form a “Biostimulant Council” and work together to advance policy and regulatory frameworks that increase biostimulant market access and encourage research and innovation. The Biostimulant Coalition is a non-profit group of interested parties cooperating to proactively address regulatory and legislative issues involving biological or naturally derived additives, including but not limited to bacterial or microbial inoculants, biochemical materials, amino acids, humic acids, fulvic acid, seaweed extract and other similar materials. The group was formed in 2011.
 
“We are happy to welcome the Biostimulant Coalition under the TFI umbrella,” said TFI President & CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “Biostimulants are an important and growing area of crop nutrition. The Biostimulant Coalition has achieved great success as the voice of an emerging industry and we are excited about the potential to achieve even more with the additional resources of TFI fully behind the effort.”
 
“The partnership with TFI will provide the Biostimulant Coalition with all the tools we need to continue serving the membership we have, as well as growing those offerings,” agreed Biostimulant Coalition Executive Director, David Beaudreau, Jr. “TFI brings to the table a high functioning team of professionals and a full suite of legal, policy, regulatory, and communications resources.”
 
“The number one issue facing the biostimulant industry is not having a regulatory approval process that allows biostimulants to be marketed to or utilized by farmers,” concluded Rosenbusch. “TFI will be leading the way to change that and ensure the industry has a workable biostimulant definition, products have an approval path to market and scientifically defensible claims can be analyzed by growers to evaluate use on their crops.” 

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The Fertilizer Institute (TFI)
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. Learn more about TFI’s nutrient stewardship initiatives at nutrientstewardship.org.  

Rethinking the Future of Fertilizer

For more than 100 years, the fertilizer industry – and agriculture at large – has benefited off the work of science and technology. Starting in 1918, with the Haber Bosch process, which made the production of ammonia fertilizer economically feasible. Since then, the industry has kept refining not just how fertilizers are made, but how they are used by plants.

It’s this later work that I think about when I think of the future of fertilizer. Agriculture faces challenges, that while not new to the conversation today, they are vitally important to the future of our industry and the planet. Whether it’s finding sustainable ways to feed a growing global population or responding to environmental concerns at local levels, we will need to think creatively about fertilizer going forward.

Fertilizers are one tool farmers can’t do without. They help replenish the soil after each cropping season and allow for the growth of crops at yields that provide sustained global food production. However, nitrogen and phosphorus applied without consideration of 4R principles can lead to nutrient losses impacting both air and water quality. Enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) and other new product technologies and formulations can increase a plant’s ability to use fertilizers and help keep fertilizer in the plant’s root zone – both of which reduce nutrient loss. In a farm’s conservation system, these products can reduce agriculture’s impacts on the environment while maintaining or increasing productivity and profitability. And for many in the food supply chain, these products can be an important element for reaching sustainability goals that focus on improving water quality and mitigating climate change.

There has been much development to make sure that fertilizer stays in the soil in a form that is readily available for plant uptake. Whether that is through the use of 4R Nutrient Stewardship, EEFs, biostimulants, or any number of new technologies on the horizon, the fertilizer industry has always looked for solutions. And we’re now presented with a new opportunity for the next generation of commercial fertilizers.

This summer, TFI partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the NextGen Fertilizer Challenges, which aims to accelerate the development of innovative fertilizer product technologies and to increase the use of EEFs that maintain or increase crop yields and reduce environmental impacts to air, land, and water.

Public-private partnerships, such as this one, are key to improving the registration process for new fertilizers and increasing farmers’ access to new technologies that provide needed agronomic benefit. The NextGen fertilizer challenge will further stimulate innovation and increase on-farm adoption of effective fertilizer product technologies.

Additionally, the development of new enhanced efficiency and NextGen fertilizers can impact farmers’ bottom lines. When farmers use EEFs and other products as part of their 4R Nutrient Stewardship management, they have the opportunity to increase yields, decrease costs, and reduce environmental losses. 4R practices are based on applying the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place. Getting the 4Rs right means increasing nutrient uptake by the crop to improve farmer ROI and crop productivity. And, reducing losses to the environment means improved water quality and reduced ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Through the 4R Farming initiative, we are seeing evidence of this through on-farm data. I have two examples to share here, but more data is available at 4Rfarming.org.

From 2014 to 2017, a corn farmer in Illinois went from using basic 4R principles to an advanced strategy that incorporated variable rate fertilizer applications throughout the growing season, using enhanced efficiency fertilizers, and other 4R practices. By 2017, his yields had increased, nutrient use efficiency had improved, and impressively, he saw a 34 percent reduction in CO2 emissions coming from his fields.

A Virginia corn farmer, whose farm backs right up to the Rappahanock River, has been practicing the 4Rs for many years. He’s incorporated many advanced practices in conjunction with conservation and the use of enhanced efficiency fertilizers. On the fields where he has implemented an advanced 4R strategy, he saw a 14 percent CO2 emissions reduction, all while his cost per acre decreased.

While we can’t solely attribute these improvements to the use of EEFs and other fertilizer technologies, we are seeing that their use as part of a broader 4R management strategy is yielding results for farmers and the environment across the country.

The NextGen Fertilizer Challenges will further stimulate innovation and increase on-farm adoption of these effective fertilizer product technologies. Details about the challenges are available on the EPA website and winners will be announced in December 2020 for the existing EEFs challenge and February 2020 for the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovation challenge.

  • EEFs: Environmental and Agronomic Challenge: This challenge aims to identify existing EEFs currently on or near-market that meet or exceed certain environmental and agro-economic criteria. Submissions are due October 30, 2020.
  • Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge: This challenge aims to identify concepts for novel technologies for fertilizers that can reduce the environmental effects from modern agriculture while maintaining or increasing crop yields. Submissions to the Next Gen Fertilizer Innovations Challenge are not near-market and may include EEFs and other product technologies used with or in combination with commercial fertilizers. Submissions are due November 30, 2020.

TFI and our members are excited to be part of these future solutions for the American farmer and the environment.