EDF unveils new nutrient management tool

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



NEW ORLEANS, March 3, 2016 - Farmers and crop consultants have gained a new independent tool to help them better assess how software and fertilizer management products actually work in different regions and various soil types. Eventually, the data could also be used by agribusinesses and food companies that are interested in benchmarking sustainability.

Unveiled today at the Commodity Classic in New Orleans, the tool, NutrientStar, is funded and operated by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the nation's largest environmental groups with more than 1 million members. However, it was developed over several years of discussions with farm leaders and researchers.

“There is such a need for a system like this because there are so many things hitting the market, like applications about nutrient management and also products like foliar feeding and biologicals,” said Ohio farmer Fred Yoder who served as an adviser to help develop NutrientStar.

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“There's a lot of products out there, and I think it's going to help us separate the riffraff from the real deal,” he added. Yoder described EDF as “probably the most farmer-friendly green group there is to work with because they are market-oriented.”

Another farmer-adviser, Iowan Bill Horan, said the basic idea is that “there needs to be some type of an Underwriters Laboratory sort of seal on all of these types of programs, products and systems that we producers hear about every year.

“What EDF is trying to do is put legitimate data behind all of these programs that different companies have so producers have a confidence level that this is actually worth what they are going to pay for it,” Horan noted.

Karen Chapman, EDF's agricultural sustainability project manager and administrator of the NutrientStar program, emphasized that “NutrientStar will showcase how well products work in real-world farming scenarios.” An independent science review panel will conduct assessments of all the tools on the market, “particularly looking at on-farm field trials, to determine how a tool works in croplands, in different regions, and on different soil types.”

Fertilizer management tools reviewed through NutrientStar include enhanced efficiency fertilizer compounds, such as nitrogen stabilizers, and decision support tools, such as optical sensor technologies or models used to aid nutrient applications in the field. Tools and products already assessed or soon to be assessed include:

  • Adapt-N (made by Agronomic Technology Corp.), an online software program that uses a linked crop model and soil model to estimate nitrogen rates for individual fields or areas within fields.
  • Fertilizer management products including N-Serve (made by Dow AgroSciences); AGROTAIN, AGROTAIN PLUS, and SUPER U (made by Koch Agronomic Services).
  • Reviews being made public this spring include: Nutrisphere N (made by Verdesian); Instinct II, ESN (made by Agrium); DCD; Thiosulfate; and, Slow Release Foliar N products made from methylene urea.

Assessments later in 2016 will focus on Fieldview Pro Nitrogen Advisor (made by Climate Corporation) and Encirca (made by DuPont Pioneer).

“As food companies' demand for sustainably produced ingredients continues to skyrocket, they'll need to support farmers and the entire supply chain in implementing on-farm conservation practices,” added Chapman. “NutrientStar will help food companies navigate the fertilizer management world, and will spark further innovation, research and development for better nutrient management tools.”

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“NutrientStar also enables farmers to more easily execute the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, which include applying fertilizer at the right source, the right rate, the right time, and the right place,” said McGuire. “NutrientStar complements the 4Rs by informing farmers on tools that will most effectively help implement these important practices.”

For more information on NutrientStar, including scientific assessment criteria, visit www.nutrientstar.org.

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