Local Citrus Grower Named 2018 4R Advocate by TFI
by ERIKA ALDRICH
Fertilizer has always played an important role in agriculture, and it’s more important than ever with a growing world population and the need to grow more on less land. It’s also become apparent that the unsystematic use of fertilizers is bad for the environment, causing pollution where excess fertilizer finds its way into waterways.
The 4Rs are the answer to this issue, limiting the use of fertilizer to those that best meet the crops needs, the exact amount needed, only at the optimal time, and delivered to the place the plant is best able to use it. Growers like Glenn Beck work with fertilizer retailers like Rob Watson and Griffin Fertilizer to ensure the 4R’s are part of their operation’s nutrient programs. “The 4Rs are a tool that the grower, farmer, and rancher can use to help improve the quality of the water leaving their properties,” Royal shares.
Growers can save money on inputs and realize higher quality crops and better harvests, but the main focus of the 4Rs is the land and the water. “Better nutrient management is good for the grower,” Royal assures, “but it’s also good for the environment.” The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Award is for those growers who are excelling at the win-win formula of the 4Rs and improving both the environment and their own operations.
Glenn Beck and his brother, Mark Beck, manage Beck Brothers Citrus, Inc., a family-owned citrus and blueberry operation that was started in the 1950s by their father, George Beck. “Beck Bros. has been a leader within the Florida Citrus Industry for many advancements and changes to the way fertilizer is applied and utilized by Florida citrus growers,” Rob Watson shared in his letter nominating the company for the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Award. George was the fertilizer operations manager at the former South Lake Apopka Citrus Growers Cooperative, and Watson assured that George gave his sons “a first-hand understanding from an early age of the important role of fertilizers in the production of citrus.”
Today, Beck Brothers, Inc., encompasses 7,500 acres of Florida Citrus in seven counties in Central Florida. Beck Brothers expanded in 1997 to share their knowledge with fellow growers, adding a full-service citrus management program for citrus grove owners.
Griffin Fertilizer, a Division of Ben Hill Griffin, Inc., is a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection products distributor located in Frostproof, Florida. According to salesman Rob Watson, Beck Brothers utilizes the 4Rs in numerous ways, such as taking soil and leaf tissue samples in order to determine the trees’ nutrient needs, spacing fertilizer applications to six times a year rather than just two, the use of a micro sprinkler irrigation system to deliver liquid fertilizers, and the use of foliar fertilizers and micronutrients, just to name a few.
Beck Brothers also follow the Best Management Practice (BMP) plan for citrus, which now incorporates the 4R’s. Mike Roberts, the Division Manager for Griffin Fertilizer shared that, “As a fertilizer/agchem retailer in Central Florida, I believe it’s vitally important that we promote the agronomic, environmental, and economic benefits of the 4R’s of nutrient stewardship. With most of our crops being grown on shallow, well-drained soils, we must ensure that our production practices minimize any impact on our state’s groundwater. It’s encouraging to note that most of our customers have already implemented crop-specific BMP’s that embrace the 4R framework.”
There’s no denying the importance of a citrus grower winning this award. “He’s the first citrus grower to win it,” shares Royal. “We all know the citrus industry is struggling, and what the 4Rs does is helps them to be better managers of their nutrient programs, and in many cases, it returns more profit to them because of their better nutrient management . . . All the growers that I work with that are using this are telling me what they’re saving, and they also feel it’s a lot better for the environment and the land.” Royal says. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication that Florida growers have for the land they farm.