Environmental Responsibility

Safeguarding the future of our food and our planet

The fertilizer industry is taking the lead to initiate and support both research and regulations that develop standard practices designed to limit, or prevent entirely, any negative environmental repercussions due to the use fertilizers and other nutrients.

We are accomplishing this is several ways.

4R Nutrient Stewardship

Nutrient stewardship is a science-based approach to nourishing crops and suggests the “right” ways to use fertilizer. Our approach is that there are four “rights” which make farming more productive, resulting in higher yields, improved soil health, and cleaner air and water.

The concept is to use the right nutrient source at the right rate at the right time in the right place. entire library of resources about it. If you’d like to learn more, please visit Nutrient Stewardship.

Managing Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to lower yields or plants that are less able to handle external stresses. Successful agriculture then begins even before the first seed is planted.

Farmers perform soil tests to determine the pH and existing nutrient levels in the ground. Weather patterns and other management practices also affect the amount of fertilizer needed.

With that data, and much more information gathered throughout the season, farmers can distribute the right nutrients in the right amount in the right time at the right place. That means reduced fertilizer losses to the environment.

Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers

A major advancement in managing nutrients are Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizers (EEFs), products that can reduce nutrient losses to the environment while increasing availability to the plant. They work by either slowing the release of nutrients for absorption or alter the conversion of nutrients to other forms that may be less susceptible to losses.

A 2022 meta-analysis found that urease inhibitors reduced NH3 volatilization by 51% and nitrification inhibitors reduced N2O emissions by 49%

(Fan et al., 2022)

Precision Agriculture

Today, with site-specific management tools like GPS and yield monitors, farmers can more accurately monitor all the factors affecting their crops. Specialized equipment can adjust fertilizer usage based on the needs of the soil and crop in a particular portion of a field. This type of technology is ensuring less waste than ever before.

Protecting Air & Water

Farmers, along with all of us in the fertilizer industry, take nutrient loss to the environment very seriously. It is a real concern for the health of our groundwater, lakes, rivers and atmosphere.

Several conservation practices already exist to help prevent erosion of soil, which may contain excess nutrients from ending up somewhere they shouldn’t be. But on top of that, making sure that only the right source and amount of fertilizer is used when and where it’s most needed will further reduce the chances of contamination.

Following State Fertilizer Regulations

Every state in the country, as well as Puerto Rico, has its own regulations regarding fertilizer quality as well as proper handling and application. They are also concerned with proper labeling, protecting the public’s health and the environment. Most regulations are handled at the state level due to the dramatically different soil conditions that exist throughout the country and the unique mixes of nutrients they require. Crop diversity, microclimates and cropping patterns also require state-specific regulation.

Supporting the Fertilizer Reporting Solutions initiative

The current paper-based reporting system employed by state governments requires the use of many specific paper forms, each with their own unique data requirements, reporting cycles and fees.

TFI is working with members and state regulators to compile all state information regarding fertilizer, soil amendment, and liming reporting for placement on a web portal. TFI worked with members of the industry to determine key information and features desired in reporting solution for the industry. These identified components were included in the first phase of the solution, which is currently in the beta-test phase.

Adhering to Federal Regulations

There are several federal regulations that cover a wide range of aspects related to fertilizer manufacturing and transportation, including safety, security and energy, as well as the industry’s impact on the environment and the economy. More in-depth information on all of these policies, including our positions, are available on our issues page. 

Next: Fertilizer Production