Mark Dorenkamp of the Brownfield Network spoke with Agren CEO Tom Buman about his recent blog post 4Rs Are Not Enough. Tom explains that the 4Rs are a start, but alone they will not reduce nutrient loss to the level required by the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Precision conservation practices need to also be considered and applied. Farmers can’t afford to get this wrong.
The CEO of a conservation-focused precision agriculture software company says the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Strategy is not enough to meet ambitious water quality goals.
Tom Buman with Iowa-based Agren considers the 4 R’s: right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time, and with the right placement, a great starting point.
“But when you look at the overall benefit gained by implementing the 4 R’s, at least in the Upper Midwest, does not get us to the levels that state governments committed to the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force.”
The 12 state partnership aims to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous loading in the Gulf 45 percent by 2035.
Buman tells Brownfield farmers will have to go beyond nitrogen management to achieve those results.
“We might be able to get 20 percent of the way there, but we still need those other practices like wetlands, bioreactors, saturated buffers and cover crops. (cover crops) is really a big one in order to achieve the standards we have set out.”
Buman acknowledges the cost of implementing some of these practices without a financial return is a problem.
He says more state and federal incentives are needed, since farmers should not be saddled with the entire responsibility of improving water quality.
Listen to Mark’s full interview with Tom to learn more: