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4R Nutrient Stewardship

green 4r logo with nutrient stewardship text

4R Nutrient Stewardship

Right product, right rate, right time, right place.

Right Source means a balanced supply of essential plant nutrients. Right RIght is applying just enough fertilizer necessary. Right time means timing application for the best benefit. RIght Place is where plants can easily use the fertilizer.

The 4R Certification standards were created by the 4R Ontario Steering Committee in close collaboration with the Nutrient Stewardship Council, the Ohio Agri-Business Association and The Fertilizer Institute in the U.S. to ensure alignment between cross-border efforts to implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship and minimize nutrient losses under the 4R Certification Program. The standards are reflective of the best available science, technology and regulatory requirements for Ontario conditions. 

Members of the 4R Ontario Steering Committee represent a diversity of stakeholders including Fertilizer Canada; the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA); the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA); the Grain Farmers of Ontario; the Ontario Federation of Agriculture; the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario; Conservation Ontario; The Nature Conservancy – Ohio; the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; the International Plant Nutrition Institute; the Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Board; and Ontario agri-retailers. 

4R Nutrient Stewardship is being implemented across Ontario through a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC), formalized in 2015 alongside the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Fertilizer Canada; and the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA). The three MOC signatories collaborated with the previously mentioned partners to form the 4R Ontario Steering Committee. The Ontario 4R Certification program, modelled after the program being adopted by agri-retailers in Ohio, encourages agri-retailers, nutrient service providers and certified professionals to adopt science-based, proven 4R Nutrient Stewardship Best Management Practices (BMPs). 

4R Nutrient Stewardship BMPs must be customized to fit each farm’s unique climatic, soil, cropping and operational conditions. Continuous improvement can be achieved by employing science that optimizes the economic, social and environmental performance of BMPs utilized in implementing the voluntary 4R Nutrient Stewardship program in Ontario. These standards, and the corresponding evidence to meet those standards, will be audited by a private, third-party to provide a consistent, recognized program for Ontario agri-retailers.

The Ontario agriculture industry is committed to working towards the long-term improvement of the Great Lakes water quality. By supporting the need to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes, we are committed to being a part of the solution to ensuring the Great Lakes remain “drinkable, swimmable and fishable.” The industry recognizes the potential for regulations, the importance of environmental stewardship and its role in ensuring the proper use of fertilizer. Additionally, end-use customers are starting to demand that steps be taken to prove the agricultural industry is committed to sustainable practices. 

Food companies and sustainable supply chain initiatives recognize the value of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework so we can assist growers in addressing compliance questions and assist in accessing new markets for their products. It will be critical for members of Canada’s value chain to respond in a proactive and cohesive manner to the challenges and opportunities presented by the growing global demand for sustainably grown ingredients.

The audit standards can be found here: 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Standards Manual

Our recommendation approach to Nutrient Management

We base our nutrient recommendation on a build, maintain or drawdown basis. When soil sample values are low, we make recommendations greater than crop removal to build soil test levels. When soil tests are at targeted levels, we maintain with crop removal values. When soil tests are high, we make recommendations which are less than crop removal and at times a zero rate to drawdown soil fertility values and take advantage of over applications from the past. This approach assures that nutrients are neither deficient limiting crop performance or excessive impacting on the size of your environmental footprint. Optimizing harvested yield and maximizing nutrient use efficiency is the goal.

Site-specific 4R Nutrient Stewardship

Our BUILD - MAINTENANCE - DRAWDOWN recommendation system will support these nutrient goals:

  1. Right Product
  2. Right Rate
  3. Right Time
  4. Right Place

chart showing the rate of application decreasing as the soil tests levels go from build to target range to drawdown

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