The world of agriculture is changing. Our farmers have always been innovative and have had to make changes on their farm business to survive and to stay competitive in the world market.
Our farmers today live in a world where environmental concerns and increased demand for food are creating challenges never seen before.
According to the United Nations, the global population will increase by more than two billion people in the next 40 years, and many reports have indicated that agricultural production needs to double by 2050. Industry experts agree that increased production of food, fiber and fuel will be achieved by intensified production and not by expanded arable land base. Genetic and biotech seed industries have predicted yield increases of three to four per year. However, to optimize the yields of advanced seeds, fertilizer inputs must be optimized to provide the greatest potential for success.
Pressure to limit the use of fertilizers is increasing. Legislative, regulatory, and non-government organization activities, including legal action pertaining to nutrients in the environment, are taking place at the provincial and federal levels. The issue of algae blooms has made the news the past few years, and although agriculture is part of this issue, the problem goes well beyond agriculture. But because agriculture makes up less than two per cent of our Canadian population, the farming sector is becoming a target for many of our government ministries.
Fertilizer is a component of sustainable crop production systems, and the fertilizer industry recognizes the need to efficiently utilize these nutrients, and the use of science-based information for stakeholders to use for education, advocacy, and implementation of crop nutrient stewardship, such as the 4R principles.
The guidelines for the 4R principles are endorsed and supported by the International Plant Nutrition Institute, The Fertilizer Institute, The Canadian Fertilizer Institute, and the International Fertilizer Industry Association.
The 4R nutrient stewardship principles are the same globally, but how they are used locally varies depending on field and site-specific characteristics such as soil, cropping system, management techniques, and climate. The scientific principles of the 4R framework include:
Right Source – Ensure a balanced supply of essential nutrients, considering both naturally available sources and the characteristics of specific products, in plant available forms.
Right Rate – Assess and make decisions based on soil nutrient supply and plant demand.
Right Time – Assess and make decisions based on the dynamics of crop uptake, soil supply, nutrient loss risks, and field operation logistics.
Right Place – Address root-soil dynamics and nutrient movement, and manage spatial variability within the field to meet site-specific crop needs and limit potential losses from the field.
These four ‘rights’ provide a simple checklist to assess whether a given crop has been fertilized properly. These also will assist our farmers and crop advisers identify opportunities for improvement in fertilizing each specific crop in each specific field.This is yet another way our agricultural sector is stepping up to help feed the world in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Think about this – Rain and sun are to the flower as praise and encouragement are to the human spirit.
Just some food for thought.
Here in Chatham-Kent ‘WE GROW FOR THE WORLD’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’