Ag retailers have continued to play very important roles in resource management. Retailers have valuable experience, relationships with every farmer and “boots on the ground” on nearly every farm at some point during the year. Ag retailers have expertise, products and services that can help maximize the value of fertilizer, pesticide and other inputs, and keep those inputs on the crop.
Key roles ag retailers are filling include:
Learning about resource management issues in their watersheds.
Supporting and participating in research and data development, including water quality monitoring.
Participating in regional and local alliances to address resource concerns.
Offering products and services that improve input use efficiency and reduce input losses from farmland.
Educating farmer clients about opportunities to implement improvements on their farms.
In Iowa, ag retailers, farmers and others have joined together to create Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance. The Alliance has been working for more than ten years to monitor water quality, identify water quality challenges and implement solutions. In 2011, the Alliance refreshed and recommitted to a Code of Practice for Nitrogen Fertilization to address a key opportunity to improve water quality in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers.
In Illinois, the newly formed “Keep It for the Crop (KIC) by 2025” campaign establishes goals for reducing nutrient losses from cropland through the 4R’s of nutrient management: Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. Partners include the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association, Illinois Corn Growers, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Pork Producers and Syngenta. In 2012, with strong support from ag retailers, Illinois instituted a fertilizer fee expected to generate $2 million each year. At least 20% of the amount raised annually must be used for on-farm nutrient management and water quality projects.