With increased attention to how nutrients are managed in Illinois, the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA) has implemented a 4R Code of Practice, which helps growers manage nutrients as a system, with special attention to the “4R’s” of nutrient management: right source, right rate, right time, right place.

“4R Nutrient Stewardship considers the economic, social and environmental dimensions of nutrient management, and is essential to the sustainability of our Illinois agricultural production systems,” says Jean Payne, president, IFCA.

Payne adds that growers can expect companies committed to the 4R Code of Practice to provide education, support and implementation of the 4R practices outlined below, which are based on the University of Illinois Agronomy Handbook, http://extension.cropsci.illinois.edu/handbook/.

4R Nutrient Code of Practices

Here’s an overview of the 4R Practices in Illinois:

  • Wait to apply fall-applied nitrogen until the maximum daily soil temperatures at the 4-inch level fall to 50°F and temperatures are predicted to continue to decline.
  • Use nitrification inhibitors to help stabilize fall-applied nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Avoid applying the majority of a field’s nutrient needs on frozen, snow-covered fields.
  • Base all nutrient application rates on agronomic and economic considerations, as specified in the Illinois Agronomy Handbook, using the MRTN calculator as the basis for establishing an initial target nitrogen recommendation.
  • Manage nitrogen as a system, not as just an application. Managing nitrogen as a system gives consideration to the 4Rs of nutrient management. This approach involves recommending a system that meets the farmer’s specific nitrogen needs and includes the use of nitrogen enhancement products that fit best within the nitrogen management system.
  • Soil test at least once every four years to determine levels of phosphorus, potassium and pH, and base application rates on the Illinois Agronomy Handbook.
  • Follow proven crop production practices to optimize yield and nutrient use. Such practices include proper nutrient management, good pest control practices, scouting of fields, taking corrective action if needed to control pests during the growing season and timely harvest to minimize harvest loss.

Learn more about the IFCA 4R Code of Practice here.

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