The agriculture sector continues to see changes every year, where environmental concerns and increased demand for food are creating challenges never seen before.
The global population is expected to increase by more than two billion people over the next 40 years, and reports have stated that agricultural production needs to double by 2050.
Industry experts agree that increased production of food will be achieved by intensified production and not by expanded arable land base. Genetic and biotech seed researchers have predicted yield increases of three to four per year and in order to optimize the yields of crops, fertilizer inputs must be optimized to provide the greatest potential for success.
However, 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.
Algae blooms have made the news the past few years. Agriculture is part of this issue, but the problem also goes beyond agriculture. Since 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. We need to utilize science-based information for stakeholders in regards to education, advocacy, and the implementation of crop nutrient stewardship programs, such as the 4R principles.
The guidelines for the 4R principles are endorsed and supported by Fertilizer Canada (www.fertilizercanada.ca) as well as other national and international organizations. Fertilizer Canada is an industry association representing Canadian manufacturers, wholesalers and retail distributors of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilizer used in the production of agricultural crops that help feed the world. They work with all industry stakeholders to advance the development and deployment of the best science-based environmental stewardship practices for fertilizers.
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 will also assist our farmers and crop advisers to 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 – Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
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 45 years. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’.