TFI members support a vision where 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. For fertilizer use to be sustainable, it must where 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. For fertilizer use to be sustainable, it must support cropping systems that provide economic, social, and environmental benefits. The 4R principles are the same globally, but how they are used locally varies depending on numerous variables including soil, cropping system, management techniques, and climate.



Agronomic professionals lead efforts to assist growers with 4R implementation on the farm and are an important part of the industry. Whether creating custom blends of bulk fertilizers or through precision agriculture techniques for soil analysis and crop mapping, agronomists are a valuable farmer resource. Many industry agronomists are Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs), having met rigorous standards prescribed by the American Society of Agronomy. CCA certification assures farmer customers that their crop advisers are equipped to apply leading edge technical knowledge to fertilizer recommendations.


In 2015, participating industry members reported the number of agronomic professionals within their organizations, as well as the number of professionals maintaining Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) status. Seven retailer organizations reported accounting for 0.58 CCAs per location. Ten non-retailer organizations reported accounting for 2.85 CCAs per location. 



4R Nutrient Management Specialty Certification

Certified Crop Advisors (CCAs) must meet rigorous standards that form a knowledge benchmark for practicing agronomy professionals. In 2014, the 4R Nutrient Management (4R NMS) Specialty Certification was developed by the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program to meet the demand for advisers with focused nutrient management knowledge and skills. The 4R NMS Specialty Certification gives CCAs greater visibility for their ability to help growers meet the need for improved water quality and environmental stewardship. 

The CCA 4R NMS Specialty Certification builds upon the nutrient, soil, and water components of the International CCA Certification by allowing candidates to demonstrate proficiency in the 4R concept and with building it into nutrient management planning. In 2015, the program was made available in seven states (Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin). More than 70 CCAs participated in the first exam offered in August 2015. The program geography and number of certified individuals continues to expand.



TFI and its members engage with non-governmental organizations and research groups to enhance fertilizer management on the farm. Nutrient stewardship and land quality protection are two important topics on which TFI regularly interacts with scientists, community members, customers, and others to better understand their issues. Organizations that participating member companies engaged during 2015 include:

• 4R Research Fund • Ag in the Classroom • Agribusiness Association of Iowa • Agricultural Retailers Association • American Farmland Trust • American Society of Agronomy • Auburn University • Clemson University • Conservation Technology Information Center • Council on Best Management Practices • Ducks Unlimited • american Farm Bureau federation • Field to Market • Florida Research Center for Agricultural Sustainability • Food Producers of Idaho • Future Farmers of America  • Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association • Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council • Institute of Florida Agricultural Science • International Fertilizer Association • International Joint Commission • International Plant Nutrition Institute • Iowa Ag Water Alliance • Iowa  Nutrient  Research and Education Council • Iowa State University • Kansas State University • Michigan AgriBusiness Association • The Nature Conservancy • Nutrients for Life Foundation • Ohio AgriBusiness Association • Ohio  State  University • Oregon State University • Purdue University • Soil Science Society of America • United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network • University of Arkansas • University of California • University of Florida • University of Idaho • University of Missouri • USDA  Natural  Resources Conservation Service • Utah State University  •  Washington State University • Western Lake Erie Basin Nutrient Stewardship Council



Enhanced efficiency fertilizer (EEF) products can facilitate increased plant uptake and therefore reduced nutrient losses to the environment when compared to similar fertilizers that don’t contain EEF additives. In 2015, 640,004 nutrient tons of nitrogen fertilizer were treated with EEFs and sold by four reporting companies. This represents 11.5 percent of the total nutrient tons of nitrogen sold at approximately 1,500 retail locations across the United States.



In 2013, the 4R Research Fund was created by the fertilizer industry to help establish sustainability indicators and environmental impact data to expand 4R nutrient stewardship implementation across North America. The fund provides needed resource support with a focus on measuring and documenting the economic, social, and environmental impacts of 4R nutrient stewardship. The industry is committed to providing growers the tools they need to remain profitable while protecting the environment. 

In 2015, the U.S. fertilizer industry contributed $1,006,000 to the research fund, and four U.S. projects totaling $366,365 were awarded to university researchers. Information about projects awarded in 2015 are available online. The 4R Research Fund is maintained by the Foundation for Agronomic Research (FAR), a non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education foundation managed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI). Funded projects are reviewed and recommended by a multi-stakeholder technical advisory group before final approval by an industry fund management committee.



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