4R Stewardship with Simplot Grower Solutions

Apr 24, 2023

Written By: Alynn Hagstrom

As discussed in the March Agronomy Den Newsletter written by Jeremy German, we are in the process of transitioning to Simplot Grower Solutions. In this transition, while working with our new colleagues to the south, we have seen a lot of passion when sharing their farming story, whether that’s their humble beginnings, their plans for today, or for the future.

The J.R. Simplot Company has been very purposeful with their commitments to the planet and their 4Sight 2030 Goals, having pledged to reduce energy, water, carbon, and waste across all production facilities worldwide. As we continue with this transition to SGS, there’s an opportunity for us to share our story too, and discuss what we have been doing with 4R in Saskatchewan.

In crop production, nitrogen fertilizers are applied and converted to NO3 and NH4, which are taken up by the plant and assist in yield and quality of grains. Ensuring that N is applied at rates sufficient enough to meet plant demands against increasing pressures from the UN to meet food security concerns and sustainability goals is an industry wide goal. This means for farms, that higher Nitrogen inputs are required to meet the demands for higher crop yields and there is an increasing necessity to follow 4R practices.

As many of us know, 4R stands for:
  • Right Rate: Farmers are utilizing soil samples to determine the right rate of fertilizer to be placed.
  • Right Place: Fertilizer is being applied at the right spot so the plant can readily access it throughout the season.
  • Right time: Fertilizer application is done at the appropriate time to ensure the plant is getting the nutrients at the right time.
  • Right Source: Utilizing the right fertilizer for the crop, and environmental conditions.
Through 2022, 60 of our Crop Advisors completed 4R training with Fertilizer Canada. This organization is one that we have partnered with over the last couple of years. They represent manufacturers, wholesale, and retail distributors of nitrogen, potash and sulphur fertilizers. Their intent is to advocate for sustainability, stewardship, safety and security.

For example, part of their work has been to advocate for the industry when the Federal Government announced target emissions in regard to nitrogen fertilizer. This led to a discussion paper that was released with Agri-Canada which had improved 4R practices being a lar ge focus.

Part of the Fertilizer Canada training was learning about 4R plans and Fertilizer Canada’s Voluntary Grower Sign Up Program. Working with a 4R Agronomist, a farm can sign up acres and participate in this program that helps Fertilizer Canada to showcase that farmers are voluntarily adopting 4R practices without requiring further intervention. Another reason to get involved with 4R plans for your farm is that you will gain a better understanding of your farm’s fertilizer use efficiency on a per field basis. Remembering that these plans must be flexible and practical, while still being science and evidence based. In 2022, we reported 160,000 acres through
our trade area.

We know that Saskatchewan farmers have only the best intentions to do the right thing and we feel that this mirrors Simplot Grower Solutions’ values. As we continue down this path, there continues to be opportunities with other programs that are available such as the Canola Councils 4R Advantage Program, or the Prairie Watershed Climate Program which are all under the umbrella of the On-Farm Climate Action Fund. These programs have given farmers a chance to receive $75,000 to improve nitrogen management, cover cropping, and rotational grazing practices. For more information please talk to your local Simplot Crop Advisor.

Canadian agriculture continues to do the right thing, and that has always been a value for our team. This continues as we transition to Simplot Grower Solutions. We strive to be at the forefront of the industry changes and partner with our growers as we continue with organizations such as Fertilizer Canada to showcase our sustainability story.

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