April 1, 2021 - The Future of Farming


Thursday, April 1, 2021 - Phosphorus, a nutrient essential to crop growth, may have been the first element to be chemically discovered, but it is one of the most difficult to track. This is especially true when it comes to nutrient management on farms.

Deficiencies in plants are hard to spot, and the phosphorus cycle through soil and watersheds is a delicate balance susceptible to human influence, while losses to the environment are coming under increasing scrutiny. 

But a wider dissemination of this knowledge is vital for ensuring the sustainable use of phosphate fertilizers to help farmers rise to the challenge of food production.

We know that phosphorus deposits are finite, making it important that we conserve and recycle phosphorus for future generations. Ensuring that the tools and technologies developed across the fertilizer sector are available to farmers to help them meet their productivity goals while minimizing environmental footprint is also paramount.

One such example is the development of the P Index, a tool that helps farmers identify which areas on their farm are more susceptible to phosphorus nutrient loss. Using the P Index is helping to reduce the amount of phosphorus lost to the environment in the U.S., an estimated 25,000 tons. 

The success of the P Index is demonstrated by the fact that in 49 states, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NCRS) has adopted it as the cornerstone of nutrient management planning at Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFOs. This approach is also used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cost-effectively prioritize and target conservation measures across the US.

Another example of applied nutrient management studies is the research and demonstration of Arkansas Discovery Farm Program.

Across the 12 farms, researchers are evaluating how to minimize the potential movement of nutrients from land into water to protect soil and reduce nutrient runoff. This includes evaluating the effectiveness of conservation methods, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, alongside nutrient management best practices.

Program findings so far have shown that less than five and three percent of applied nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers are lost annually in surface run-off on average. Computerized planning tools have also helped improve irrigation water management, reducing irrigation runoff to less than 10 percent of current common losses and saving one of the most precious commodities to many farmers.

Initial program results have already given farmers proof and confidence that they are providing safe and affordable food supplies, while protecting natural resources for future generations. Seeing the practices in action has also empowered them to further improve their nutrient management and water conservation.

Most importantly, these experiential learning programs show farmers what works, provides a powerful vehicle for them to influence future agricultural policy, and enables them to be proactively invested in both food and environmental security.

Finally, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship is a fertilizer industry–led lab-to-land initiative that promotes efficient fertilizer use. The initiative encourages farmers to apply the “Right” nutrient source, at the “Right” rate, at the “Right” time and in the “Right” place.

Learn More at the Original Article Here