The renewal of a partnership agreement between Fertilizer Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO), the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA), the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) will ensure the continued advancement of sustainable agriculture in Ontario.
With a combined investment of $382,500 over three years, the extended Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) will provide solutions for growers facing rising pressures of reducing environmental impacts while maximizing yields and economic benefit.
4R Nutrient Stewardship is an internationally-recognized best management practice (BMP) system with four key pillars for fertilizer application: Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. This science-based approach helps growers understand how efficient fertilizer application improves profitability while reducing nutrient losses to the environment.
"We are working closely with the agriculture sector on nutrient management and I appreciate industry's continued leadership in this area," said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "This expanded agreement will see us work with key partners to further build the use of best practices in Ontario's already strong and responsible farming sector."
"This MOC allows for the continued advancement of the 4R Certification program in Ontario, which allows agri-retailers to align their business practices with the sustainability principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship as verified by a third-party audit of 37 standards," said Dave Buttenham, Chief Executive Officer of OABA. "4R Certification ensures agri-retailers can confidently offer their grower customers the best in nutrient management advice."
"Agri-retailers are a grower's best resource for nutrient management advice, and growers are looking for ways to reduce the environmental impact of their farms" said Clarence Nywening, President of CFFO. "Aligning their business practices with 4R Nutrient Stewardship through 4R Certification is a good way for growers to recognize those solutions."
By implementing 4R BMPs on their farms, growers can significantly reduce their environmental impacts. Recent research by the Canadian 4R Research Network found that Ontario corn producers can reduce phosphorus losses to water by up to 60 per cent by sub-surface banding fertilizer instead of broadcasting.
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework offers growers an opportunity to reduce their on-farm greenhouse gas emissions by up to 35 per cent through the 4R Climate Smart Protocol, contributing to national and provincial reduction targets.
"Growers are excellent stewards of the environment," said Keith Currie, President of OFA. "Ontario's agriculture industry has been a leader in adopting solutions to reducing our footprint while maintaining our strong economic growth."
"Farmers want to protect the environment and protect the bottom line of their operations, and this nutrient management program can help them do both," said Barry Senft, Chief Executive Officer of GFO. "Application using the 4Rs maximizes fertilizer performance and minimizes its effect on the environment."
Through promotion, training and extension, this agreement will focus on implementation of 4R Certification in Ontario as a tool to ensure growers have consistent, reliable access to 4R advice.
"The addition of three grower groups as signatories to the Ontario MOC represents significant endorsement of the 4R program among Canadian farmers," said Garth Whyte. "Their added support will help to ensure 4R Nutrient Stewardship and the 4R Certification program continue to advance within the province and move Fertilizer Canada towards its goal of capturing 20 million 4R acres by 2020."