John Baxter

Importance of 4R Nutrient Stewardship

It’s a given that crops need fertilizer in order to produce successful yields. That’s no secret. However, improper fertilization can actually decrease yields, costing you money and potentially harming the environment in the process. That’s what makes 4R nutrient stewardship so important.

In case you aren’t familiar, 4R stands for the Right fertilizer source at the Right rate, at the Right time and in the Right place. These are the core concepts of 4R nutrient stewardship. Using these principles to guide your fertilization processes can save you time, money, and resources, which is important to Florida growers and beyond.

For example, fertilization through drip irrigation (also called fertigation) is helping strawberry growers in Florida make the best use of water and nutrients such as nitrogen and potassium. Fertigation allows farmers to apply these nutrients in a way that corresponds to the plant’s requirements. According to current standards, all of the phosphorus and micronutrients, and up to 30 pounds per acre each of nitrogen and potassium oxide can be broadcast before planting. The remaining nitrogen and potassium can then be injected to the plants via the drip irrigation system.

The UF/IFAS office can provide you with specific details on how much nitrogen, potassium, and other nutrients your crops will require, whether you are growing strawberries or another Florida crop. In general, strawberries require 150 pounds per acre of nitrogen for the total season. Excessive nitrogen can lead to malformed fruits, too much vegetative growth, and reduced yields. Too much potassium can cause smaller than average fruits and decreased yields.

All in all, the best course of action is to always do your research and follow all best management practices for the crops you are growing. Following 4R nutrient stewardship guidelines will help you achieve the best possible yields without wasting fertilizer through overuse or leaching into the surrounding environment, saving you time and money.

This column is sponsored by Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

BIO: John Baxter is the Florida Division Manager of Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC. He has proudly served Florida growers at Helena for 25 years, and he also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association. For more information about Helena products or services, or to contact a member of the Florida team, call (813) 626-5121

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