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Fertilizer Canada publishes review of 4R management of phosphorus for “P” week

September 18, 2019  By Top Crop Manager

The year 2019 marks 350 years since the discovery of phosphorus. In conjunction with Phosphorus ‘P’ Week, which runs from September 16-21, Drs. Cynthia Grant and Don Flaten have completed a review of the science base for phosphorus (P) fertilization under 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place) for crop production in the Northern Great Plains region of North America.

The review, ‘4R Management of Phosphorus Fertilizer in the Northern Great Plains: A Review of the Scientific Literature,’ funded by Fertilizer Canada and the North American 4R Research Fund, identifies key gaps in knowledge and priorities for future research on the topic. The review is built on the back of the Canadian Society of Soil Science’s ‘Red Book,’ published in 1992, which documents the impact of N, P, K, and S research on crop productivity and environmental sustainability.

In addition to being an essential nutrient for early plant health and root growth, P is also involved in seed germination to ensure plants use water efficiently, and to provide the energy that a plant needs to grow. Employing science-based principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship for P is vital for sustainable crop production.


“Fortunately, the research that we collected generally shows that most of the fertilizer P management practices that increase the agronomic efficiency of P use by crops also reduce the environmental risk of P losses,” said Dr. Grant.

Dr. Grant, the lead author for the review and a scientist who recently retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, gathered and then summarized research on P fertilization from hundreds of research papers and reports. Throughout the whole process, she was helped by leading scientists and researchers from across the Northern Great Plains region. The review can be viewed and downloaded on Fertilizer Canada’s website.

“We and the agriculture industry in general want this information to be as widely available as possible, so that it can be used by farmers, agronomists and the general public,” added Dr. Don Flaten, professor at the University of Manitoba.

This P initiative is in support of the 4R Research Network; a selection of nine leading Canadian researchers who quantify the economic, social, and environmental benefits resulting from advanced fertilizer management systems under 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The projects emphasize collaboration between university researchers, professional advisors, and provincial agriculture departments.

The 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework provides Canadian growers with information they need to enhance competitiveness, increase productivity and adaptability, while addressing the need for sustainable intensification of agriculture. The primary goal of the 4R Research Network is to compile science-based data that demonstrates, through agronomic research, the benefits of the 4Rs for improved farmer decisions on economics, feeding the world, and protecting the environment. The project is funded by Fertilizer Canada member companies, in part through the 4R North American Research Fund.


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