Farmers make up one-third of the global population. Together, they have the opportunity to play a major role in reducing impacts on the environment by adopting sustainable agriculture practices.
Fertilizer Canada, the industry association that represents fertilizer producers, is committed to advancing sustainable agriculture for farmers through innovative, science-based methods such as 4R Nutrient Stewardship. Through programming, partnerships, and advocacy, Fertilizer Canada is on track to reach its sustainability goals by 2020.
4R Nutrient Stewardship is a universally applicable, yet locally-focused, nutrient management system that encourages farmers to apply the right source of fertilizer at the right rate, right time and in the right place. The 4R framework is strongly aligned with the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Strategy and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
“By utilizing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework on-farm, farmers are able to reduce nutrient losses that result in environmental impacts to air, water and soil resources—including reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Garth Whyte, president and CEO of Fertilizer Canada. “These benefits are coupled with a return for farmers on fertilizer dollars spent, and in many cases, increased profitability from crop yields.”
Already, 61 per cent of farmers have reported awareness of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship program, representing 45 million acres of cropland. Fertilizer Canada’s goal of capturing 20 million acres managed under the framework has received significant support from multiple stakeholders through Memorandums of Understanding with five provinces. Farmers and agri-retailers are also implementing the 4Rs through the association’s national 4R Designation program and the Ontario 4R Certification program.
The 4R framework has received unanimous support from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and has been recommended for inclusion in the proposed National Environmental Farm Plan strategy. For its ability to reduce on-farm greenhouse gas emissions, 4R Nutrient Stewardship has been chosen as a candidate protocol for Ontario and Quebec’s carbon reduction mandates and was highlighted at the international COP23 conference in 2017.
“As the backbone of agriculture, the innovations of the Canadian fertilizer industry have been essential in seeding the growth in sustainable agriculture that brought us to where we are today,” Whyte said. “We have no doubt that these practices will contribute widespread benefits across the globe.”
In March 2018, Water Canada reported that the North American fertilizer industry pledged $6 million to continue research on ways that farmers can strengthen fertilizer BMPs to reduce nutrient loss to the environment. “Donors intend that this funding be leveraged with public sector dollars to maximize its reach; and Fertilizer Canada urged Canada’s provincial and federal governments to make funding for 4R Nutrient Stewardship research and conservation incentives a high priority through the Growing Forward 3 framework.”
Since 2013, the industry has contributed $5.8 million toward 4R nutrient stewardship research.
To review Fertilizer Canada’s Vision 2020 Sustainability report visit this link.