Paving the Way 4R Water

Paving the Way 4R Water

Has the termenvironmental sustainability becomean elephant in a room? Better referred to as a problem that no one wants to discuss, but at times it's so obvious that it cannot be ignored. Well, let's face it - environmental concerns can be tricky problems to navigate and many times are multi-faceted with no one real solution. So how does one tackle environmental sustainability effectively? It's a good question and one I have given much thought, but I think it's best answered with one word - Collaboration!

Partnerships4R Water

Recentlyat Grow Canada Conference in Ottawa the Canadian Fertilizer Institute, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the Soil Conservation Council of Canada announced their collaboration working together on a common goal in efforts to protect the quality of Canada's lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater sources all while keeping agriculture profitable using 4R nutrient stewardship.

As it has been widely reported, more than 400,000 northwest Ohio residents lost public water in August 2014 due to the presence of a toxin created by algae blooms in Lake Erie. Agriculture is a contributor to this issue and is working to increase efforts to protect water quality while remaining profitable.

From the North Kensington Watershed in Prince Edward Island to Lake Winnipeg Watersheds in Manitoba, farmers are changing the way they make decisions on their farms. Agricultural sustainability is all about farm best management practices that keep producers profitable while protecting the environment. Canadian agriculture must embrace the challenges and opportunities presented by this growing global demand for sustainably grown food products.

How To Pave the Way 4R Future?

Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, and the Canadian Fertilizer Institute recognize that markets are demanding more food, fuel and fibre. This growth cannot occur at the expense of water quality. Rather, the solution has to continue to be developed through science-based modern agriculture. This collaboration is helping to pave the way for cleaner water quality in Canada and beyond.

4R Nutrient Stewardship is a Good Example.

4R Nutrient Stewardship is an innovative approach to improving profits, protecting the environment and meeting society's goals on Canada's crop lands. The objective of the program is simple—helping to ensure producers apply fertilizer using the right source, right rate, right time and right place system.

The 4R program is being implemented in provinces across the country and over the past two years, CFI has developed regionally specific partnership programs with farm groups, provincial governments and environmental groups in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta and is planning to expand into Saskatchewan.

Our Current Challenge

CFI was also encouraged that, earlier this year, the International Joint Commission issued a report on phosphorus in Lake Erie, which endorsed 4R Nutrient Stewardship as an important opportunity to improve fertilizer use in the watershed and increase water quality.

When we collaborate with like-minded partners, we achieve shared goals. Goals such as sustainable agriculture and environmental sustainability. One might even suggest collaboration promotes environmental sustainability?

In closing for programs to succeed on large-scale environmental problems perhaps itbegins with support fromglobal networks of organizations. But the real work and change is happening at the farm level. When we use science based collaboration it is key for paving the road and it helps to develop solutions to the increasing global pressures of current concerns. In the end it also allows farmers, agronomists, and suppliers to help contribute to the solution as well. Remember it's all about sharing ideas and experiences at the farm level.


Diana Tyner (M.Sc.) is a water guru, environmental advisor, and licensed greenhouse gas quantifier (GHG-IQ). She works with Canadian business, government, and industry to advance solutions in water, agriculture, and greenhouse gases. Read Dianas other blogs here