First Biostimulant Certified Under TFI Program

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) announced today that its newly launched Certified Biostimulant program has awarded the first certification for a biostimulant product.

“We are pleased to announce that AgroLiquid’s C-Tech biostimulant product has gone through the necessary steps to be recognized as a Certified Biostimulant by TFI,” said TFI president and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “Upon thorough review of their data, research, and methodology, we have confirmed their adherence to industry-established standards, ensuring that among other criteria, proper experimental protocols were followed during efficacy testing.”

TFI’s Certified Biostimulant initiative aligns with the United States Biostimulant Industry Guidelines, which set forth criteria for comprehensive documentation supporting efficacy testing methods, composition, and safety measures. Upon certification, a product is granted a distinctive label, signifying to agricultural retailers and consumers that it has undergone the necessary steps to meet the outlined standards in the guidelines.

“Biostimulants are a relatively new innovation in agriculture that have tremendous potential to enhance the existing environmental stewardship of growers and compliment 4R fertilizer practices,” Rosenbusch explained. “But in countless conversations with ag retailers, what kept coming up was the lack of a standard when assessing the new products and deciding which products to stock and recommend to their grower customers. The Certified Biostimulant program was created to provide that standard because we want to get them into the hands of more growers, and we want both the ag retailers and growers to have confidence when choosing which product they use.”

Plant biostimulants can potentially play a crucial role in sustainable agriculture by promoting nutrient uptake, stress tolerance, and overall plant vigor. Biostimulants have also been proven to provide such environmental benefits such as enhanced carbon sequestration and reduced nutrient leaching to ground and surface water.

“When we talk nutrient management, we are talking about minimizing losses to the environment, water quality, air quality, soil health, and all the other things important to the conservation and environmental communities. Biostimulants support environmental stewardship by improving the efficiencies of fertilizer application and soil health while also increasing crop yields,” Rosenbusch concluded. “We are proud to bring consumer confidence to the marketplace through our certification program and look forward to certifying more biostimulant products in the future that help to ensure our dinner tables are full and the environment is being protected.”

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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.

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 

New Fertilizer Industry Foundation is Formed

 

The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) today announced the consolidation of industry-supported organizations into the FERT Foundation, which will be dedicated to ensuring that education, research and training is conducted under a single umbrella. The new foundation will bring the work of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation (FFF), Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR), and Nutrients for Life Foundation (NFLF) together and ensure that the industry’s resources are used for maximum impact.

The three pillars of new FERT Foundation are fertilizer education, research, and training. Fertilizer education will continue under the Nutrients for Life program name. Training will operate under the Ford West Leadership Academy. Research will combine priorities of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation and the Foundation for Agronomic Research. The new Foundation will be a separate 501(c)3 organization, and will be a private foundation, serving the needs of the fertilizer industry. TFI members will direct its activity.

Goals of the FERT Foundation include:

  • Building greater understanding of the tremendous benefits afforded by using fertilizers, including an understanding of the industry’s commitment to sustainability.
  • Developing easily digestible research summaries for dissemination to retail agronomists.  
  • Building a body of research that is being used in education and with regulatory agencies.
  • Spearheading a leadership program designed specifically for fertilizer industry members.
  • Fostering and promoting careers in nutrient science and education – including 4R Nutrient Stewardship to a diverse audience of learners and educators.

 The first annual Ford West Leadership Academy will be held January 15-18, 2024, in Houston, Texas. Further details, including a preliminary schedule and registration information are available here.

“The aim of the FERT Foundation is a world in which fertilizers are understood and appreciated, scientific research supports advocacy for sustainable fertilizer use, and an engaged, informed and diverse workforce serves a thriving industry,” said TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch. “By leveraging economies of scale and more closely aligning objectives, these organizations will better serve the industry than could the existing patchwork of stand-alone organizations.”

Further information on the FERT Foundation is available here.

 

 

 

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.

TFI Welcomes Legislation Supporting Ag Research

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today praised Congress for introducing the Advancing Cutting Edge (ACE) Agriculture Act. Introduced in the Senate on March 16th by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS), and in the House of Representatives yesterday by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) and Randy Feenstra (R-IA-4), 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.

“With our global population expected to hit 10 billion people by 2050, farmers are constantly being asked to do more with less, while also being good environmental stewards by taking care of the land that takes care of us,” Rosenbusch said. “The fertilizer industry puts a strong focus on research and the farmer adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices and other methods that improve soil health, encourage the responsible and efficient use of fertilizer, increase crop yields, and minimize impacts to the environment, and welcomes additional government research into these areas.”

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.”

In its recently released Public Policy Priorities for 2023-2024, TFI has a direct focus on supporting the federal funding of 4R research and the inclusion of 4Rs in state plans to minimize nutrient loss from non-point sources.

“At the end of the day, food security is national security,” Rosenbusch concluded. “Fertilizer availability and smart application drive better yields, which in turn promote greater individual and collective health, wealth, and well-being. TFI strongly supports the ACE Agriculture Act and other legislation that will help American agriculture continue feeding the world in a sustainable way.”

 

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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.

Potential Growth for Biostimulants

Biostimulants are growing in popularity in the agronomic market as innovative new products to optimize crop production and quality. Biostimulants, by definition, are substances or microorganisms that promote plant growth, nutrient uptake, crop quality or yield, and/or stress tolerance. Interest in biostimulant products has increased, especially in regards to sustainable agriculture as they may improve nutrient use efficiency.

Biostimulants fit into the 4R nutrient stewardship framework with their contribution to nutrient use efficiency. Biostimulants can improve this nutrient efficiency with two major mechanisms: 1) by improving nutrient capture through nutrient availability or larger root systems, or 2) by improving the plant’s ability to metabolize nutrients and convert nutrients to increased yields.

Numerous types of biostimulants are available for use in agriculture. The categories recognized by the industry include live microbials, seaweed extracts, humic or fulvic acids, free amino acids and peptides, and purified molecules.

Live microbials include both inoculants that can build nodules on the root (e.g., the commonly used rhizobium in soybean), free-living N-fixing bacteria, and fungi (e.g., mycorrhizae) to extend the root system. Living microbials are designed to enhance nutrient uptake and availability to the plant and are also called biologicals, as they are living organisms (as the definition of biology infers living).

Seaweed extracts contain various natural compounds that can lead to better root growth and nutrient absorption. Humic acids, fulvic acids, and humates are obtained from decomposed organic matter and can improve soil structure, fertility, and plant health. The humics, fulvics, and humates are also called complex carbon-based products as they are derived from organics, and organic itself means the substance contains carbon. The amino acids and protein hydrolysates are the building blocks of proteins in organisms and have been shown to help improve N assimilation and utilization in the plant. The last category, the purified molecules, comes from minerals, plants, animals, and microbes, and are reported to help with stress responses in the plant. When a plant is stressed, its response is to shut down growth. Biostimulants are designed to help plants under stress mitigate some of those plant responses and encourage growth.

Each of the biostimulants has specific benefits for plants and soil. It is crucial to select the appropriate biostimulant to target higher crop yields, better plant nutrition, improved soil fertility, or potentially reduce the need for inputs such as water and fertilizer.

Biostimulants have the potential to improve farming in several ways:

Crop performance: By providing plants with essential nutrients, biostimulants can help improve plant performance, potentially resulting in better yields and higher-quality produce. Also, biostimulants can help plants cope with environmental stress such as flooding, drought, and severe temperatures.

Optimizing inputs:  Some biostimulants can allow plants to better utilize nutrient inputs such as fertilizer. These biostimulants can increase nutrient uptake or optimize fertilizer use by the plant. In turn, this can reduce off-farm nutrient loss to waterways and to the atmosphere as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Promoting sustainability: Biostimulants are primarily derived from natural sources and are usually biodegradable, making them a sustainable option. Farmers can potentially get the maximum advantages of inputs such as fertilizer by using biostimulants. In addition to optimizing inputs, biostimulants can also help to maintain soil biodiversity, which is critical for sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Stimulated root growth from biostimulants can help increase underground biomass, and may lead to greater carbon sequestration and mitigating of greenhouse gases.

Increasing profitability: By improving the efficiency of nutrient uptake by plants and allowing them to make better use of the nutrients already present in the soil, biostimulants may improve profits for farmers. Choosing the right biostimulant for the farmers’ operation can lead to yield gains and overall profit increases.

Biostimulants have promise to be highly valuable agricultural products and can have a significant impact on farming practices. As farmers continue to look for more sustainable and efficient ways to produce crops, biostimulants are emerging as an promising tool. Overall, biostimulants have the potential to improve farming by providing a way to assist crop performance and optimize inputs, which helps promote sustainable farming practices while increasing profitability. We encourage state and federal regulators and legislators to create a streamlined and efficient path to market for these products. Doing so will give growers better access to these products to provide the food, fuel, and fiber needed to support a growing world.

TFI Applauds Biostimulant Legislation

Arlington, VA – The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch today praised Congress for introducing the Plant Biostimulant Act. Introduced by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) and Jim Baird (R-IN-4) and Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Mike Braun (R-IN), the Plant Biostimulant Act will support the adoption of biostimulants by farmers and provide clarity to the emerging marketplace.   

“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.

“The lack of a regulatory framework inhibits research and puts the US behind Europe in product development,” Rosenbusch said. “Other countries are regulating biostimulants through a fertilizer lens and finding success. We are hitting a roadblock right out of the gate and need those guardrails to foster innovation, research, testing, and ultimately a path to market for these products.”

Biostimulants have the potential to enhance the existing environmental stewardship of growers and compliment 4R fertilizer practices.

“When we talk nutrient management, we are talking about minimizing losses to the environment, water quality, air quality, soil health, and all the other things important to the conservation and environmental communities. Biostimulants support environmental stewardship by improving the efficiencies of fertilizer application and soil health while also increasing crop yields,” Rosenbusch concluded. “With a growing population, demand for agricultural production continues to increase. The fertilizer industry is innovating to meet those demands and legislation like the Plant Biostimulant Act will allow that innovation to reach growers.”

 

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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.