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The Florida 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Meeting was held on Nov. 16, in Gainesville at the UF facilities on Shealey St. This program, sponsored by the Nature Conservancy, is a world-wide organization which has some goals in common with OSFR.
The program is basically about fertilizer management, which is of course a concern of environmentalists, and one of the goals is the long-term impact of fertilizer on water bodies associated with agricultural production areas. Another goal in common is that of sustainability, and they recommend that farmers keep accurate records of all nutrients placed on the soil. The goal is to use the least amount of fertilizer which will do the job.
The four R’s are the Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, and Right Place, in regard to fertilizer use. David Royal, the Florida representative for the program (who was a recent visitor to OSFR board meeting,) stated that farmers participating have realized up to 30 % less fertilizer without loss of yield.
The program is very new, having existed in the U.S. since 2012 and in Florida only since 2017. Even so, this program is already in the BMAP manuals.
The presentation today was co-sponsored by the Florida Fertilizer & Agricultural Association, represented by its president, Mary Hartney, and also by The Fertilizer Institute, represented by Dr. Sally Flis, the Director of Agronomy, from New York State.
Of the 14 participants present at the meeting, happily, we can identify four environmentalists, a good number considering this is a fertilizer-based group, with dealers and representatives there.
Among the stakeholders with the environment as their primary concern were Dr. Bob Palmer of the Florida Springs Council, Tom Carey,Volusia County Pollution Control Manager, Mike Roth, president of OSFR, and your historian.
Other stakeholders included Darryl Smith of Suwannee River Water Management District, Charles Shinn of the Florida Farm Bureau, Anthony Adams, Lafayette County commissioner, and others from the University of Florida, fertilizer reps, and farmers.
Participants in this preliminary meeting will provide feedback within a 45-day period to provide input regarding further directions of the 4R program in Florida.
OSFR commends the efforts of David Royal and the 4R Program to minimize the use of fertilizer and use it more effectively, and is appreciative of this opportunity to work with the fertilizer industry to help reach that goal.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-