Sugar Producer

March 2013

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 39

In the Field pla n t n u t r i t io n By Dr. Steve Phillips Integrating 4R Nutrient Stewardship and Precision Agriculture really think there should be a 5th ���R���, right recordkeeping.��� Integrating precision agriculture and 4R Nutrient Stewardship enhances our ability to meet the sustainability goals of crop production systems. As more growers adopt precision technologies for guidance, variable rate control, data collection and information management, their ability to apply the right nutrient source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place increases In his keynote address at the 11th Inter- complished is through the inclusion of a dynamic considerably. This integration also enhances national Conference on Precision Agriculture, feedback mechanism. feedback among stakeholders and increases the Dr. Newell Kitchen, USDA-ARS, highlighted the In the past, nutrient management has been confidence that the economic, environmental and significant role that nutrient management plays linear, mostly from the top down, with no feed- social challenges that face agricultural production in the industry. ���Nutrient management has been a back nor any assessment of changes in practice. can be viewed as opportunities to further advance starting point, the seedbed of a lot of the concepts 4R Nutrient Stewardship provides the framework nutrient management. When we, as an agricultur- where we got going [in precision agriculture].��� for stakeholder involvement at the farm, regional al community, commit to this approach, we will and policy-making levels and precision agricul- begin to change people���s attitudes about nutrient ference, as many as 70 percent of the papers ture tools can provide feedback to all of these management and find, as Kitchen said in his clos- presented dealt with nutrient management. That positions. The use of performance indicators as ing remarks, ���a great frontier ahead of us.��� n number continues to be around 50 percent and an objective evaluation of management practices, may increase in coming years as options for preci- which can increase the level of accountability that sion nutrient management continue to grow. is important to most all stakeholders, can also be He noted that in the early years of the con- The history of precision nutrient management can be thought of as having occurred in three phases: adaption, integration and accountability. done more accurately and effectively using precision agriculture technologies. Dr. John Fulton, of Auburn University, echoed Kitchen pointed out that early on, we basically took Kitchen���s feelings on accountability in nutrient what we knew about nutrient management and management in his presentation by stating, ���I Editor���s Note: Phillips is the Southeast Director of the International Plant Nutrition Institute. The mission of IPNI is to develop and promote scientific information about the responsible management of plant nutrition for the benefit of the human family. Contact him: 256-529-9932 or email: sphillips@ applied a spatial component to it. The precision agriculture movement really started to expand and overcome many of the short-comings of the adaption approaches when existing knowledge began to be integrated with new technologies. He cited the use of crop canopy sensors as an example of the growing options for precision nutrient management created by integrating realtime spatial and temporal information into the decision-making process. 4R Nutrient Stewardship is another example of integration in nutrient management. Kitchen acknowledged that the ideas of applying the right source at the right rate, at the right time, and in the right place have always been fundamental in our understanding and application of soil fertility and plant nutrition. However, the language, descriptiveness and holistic emphasis put forth in the 4R���s is unique and fresh and that ���precision agriculture is woven into many of the concepts of 4R stewardship.��� He also said, ���Precision science and technologies allow us to emphasize [the 4Rs] all at the same time; to wrap our arms around the concepts in a way that we can move forward in a meaningful way.��� Precision agriculture tools can provide the feedback and recordkeeping necessary for the accountability needed in nutrient management. The inclusion of accountability is another way 4R stewardship moves beyond traditional nutrient management. One of the main ways this is ac- ������ 35

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sugar Producer - March 2013