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4R nutrient stewardship: The right results for PEI Farmers

April 8, 2015 - 4R Demonstration Farms are proving that there are significant economic and environmental benefits for Island farmers who apply 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices on their soils.

In the second year of field trials on Prince Edward Island, 4R Advocate and agronomist Steve Watts of Genesis Crop Systems Inc., expanded the demonstration plots from five to thirteen farms while generating significant interest from agriculture, environment, and community stakeholders. The report from the 2014 growing season summarizes results which support the adoption of 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles.

Highlights include:

  • 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices trended towards equal or better performance than conventional crop fertility practices
  • 4R Nutrient Stewardship management indicated lower soil nitrate levels at eight of the 10 locations, representing reduced potential for nitrate movement to the environment

“Introducing subtle changes to the way a crop is fertilized can produce crops with at least as much economic value as the current level of management while lessening the potential environmental impact,” explains Watts. As the results from the demonstration farms return sound and consistently significant findings, we are able to confidently recommend the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework for use on PEI farms.

Compared to traditional practices, the 4Rs provide a solution to maximize nutrient use efficiency and limit potential nutrient losses. Minimizing the impact on the environment is a priority in Prince Edward Island as concerns remain about nutrient losses to ground and surface water.

4R Nutrient Stewardship research is indicating that the program results in reduced excess nutrient levels after harvest, which improves both the cost efficiency of crop inputs as well as mitigating environmental factors, both of which are good news for the prosperity and culture of Island agriculture.  

The 4R demonstration farm results are excellent examples of the use of sustainable practices which protect our soil and water while enhancing the productivity and profitability of our Canadian farmers to ensure a prosperous future for the agriculture industry.