The people who make and sell fertilizer used on Illinois farms are pushing efficiency and environmentalism. It’s the 4R program: right source, right rate, right time, right place. The idea is to use the chemical fertilizers in a smarter way.
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“We sell the same amount today that we did in the 1980s, and yet our corn yields have increased 75 percent, and our soybean yields probably 20 percent,” says Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, “and, again, for the same nutrient unit per crop. It’s all been about proper timing, proper rates, managing it throughout the season versus putting all your fertilizer on at one time. But we still have to continue to do better, because we still lose some nutrients to the environment.”
Payne’s group is promoting the program with the Illinois Certified Crop Adviser Program. Payne says the principles are already contained in the state’s agronomy handbook.