Program promotes nutrient stewardship

Conservation and stewardship go hand-in-hand with farming. For 70 years, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts and Ohio’s 88 county Soil and Water Conservation Districts have worked side by side with farmers to protect and enhance Ohio’s natural resources.

Agriculture today faces numerous challenges. To feed a growing world population and protect Ohio’s natural resources for future generations, farms will have to grow more food, which will require improvements in both production methods and environmental management.

By taking action through the OFSWCD’s new 4-R Tomorrow Nutrient Stewardship program, Ohio’s farmers can lead the charge to protect and improve water quality for generations to come. The 4-R program represents the four “rights” of fertilizer management: The Right Source, The Right Rate, the Right Time, and the Right Place.

Under the Right Source to suit the soil properties is to blend compatibility as we recognize the synergisms among elements.

Under the Right Rate is to assess plant demand with fertilizer use efficiency.

Under the Right Time is to assess timing of crop intake as we evaluate logistics of operations taking into account weather factors.

Under the Right Place the fit needs of tillage system to limit potential off field transport.

There are many benefits of the 4-R Tomorrow program by improving productivity and costs-savings, especially in dealing with fluctuations in prices of fertilizers and other inputs.

Second, adopting nutrient stewardship preserves the natural ecosystem with minimal impact to the environment.

Finally, providing an action-oriented stewardship based on clear-and-easy-to-understand concepts helps fellow farmers and the public understand how the right management of practices for fertilizer contributes to sustainability.

The following are a few key steps that every farmer can take to implement the 4-R Nutrient Stewardship principles in your farming operation. These include signing up the pledge form to reduce phosphorus runoff. To identify economical, social, and environmental goals that your cropping system objectives should address.

Some of these are through selecting site specific best management practices to achieve both production and environmental goals.

For more details or guidance on how to implement the 4-R go to

Mike Wilson is the executive director of the Trumbull Soil/Water Conservation District and is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau.