Intelligent Nutrition

If spring cleaning is your thing, remember to include your ag operations. Now is a great time to refresh your commitment to better management practices to make the most of all your resources: time, energy, money, and our environment.

One year ago, fertilizer costs were soaring. Growers were sharply focused on using this input wisely. While costs have gone down, the need for judicious nutrient applications remains more important than ever thanks to growing regulatory scrutiny.

Florida growers have many resources to assist them in making wise fertilization decisions. Fertilizer manufacturers and dealers have a wealth of information about their products available. Many certified crop advisers are already qualified or in training to assist you in nutrient management planning. The International Plant Nutrition Institute (www.ipni.net) has a toolbox of decision aids aimed at helping farmers fertilize better.

Here in Florida, the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is amassing a body of peer-reviewed research to serve as the backbone of commodity-specific best management practices (BMPs) manuals. BMPs are “practical, cost-effective actions that agricultural producers can take to reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers, animal waste, and other pollutants” entering our environment.

Success Stories

In recent weeks, Dr. Tom Obreza, UF/IFAS Interim Associate Dean for Extension, has given presentations on BMPs to the statewide UF/IFAS Regional Advisory Councils. He has highlighted the collaborative process used to develop diverse BMP manuals, ranging from citrus to cattle, sod to nursery plants, and golf courses to the green industries manual designed for lawn and landscape care professionals.

In every case, science underpins the UF/IFAS BMP recommendation. He underscored the effect of BMPs with success stories — like the citrus operation with a 222-acre grove testing conventional applications to variable rate technology fertilization. The variable rate application resulted in a 23% savings in applied fertilizer — 37 tons per application versus 48 tons applied conventionally. He put it in terms citrus growers can visualize — that’s a savings of one 20-ton fertilizer load for every 150 acres fertilized. Dramatic results were shown by a nursery grower who’s saving 90% more water, cutting use from 18 million gallons annually to 1.7 million gallons a year through BMP implementation and new technology.

Science Takes Center Stage

Among the challenges still to be worked out are how to handle the competing needs of stakeholders during tough economic times when resources are dwindling, all the while providing the research and education outreach for diverse BMP programs based on science. It’s imperative that science underlie the BMPs because although they are currently voluntary in nature, many are becoming regulatory tools as agencies seek to handle environmental concerns.
Ultimately, fertilizer remains an essential investment each year. Adequate crop nutrition is a necessity in production.

So, heed the message of the International Plant Nutrition Institute: “Use every tool available to choose only the fertilizer products that are needed, keep accurate field records to predict the right fertilizer application rate, apply nutrients at the right time to meet crop requirements, and place the valuable fertilizer in the right place to get the maximum benefit.”

For More

- For related topics, go to www.ipni.net/fertilizer2009. Aids to help farmers and crop advisers make more informed decisions are available in the Toolbox section of the International Plant Nutrition Institute’s website: www.ipni.net/toolbox.

- For more about Florida’s BMPs, go to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Water Policy website at
www.floridaagwaterpolicy.com/AtaGlance.html.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

Farm ManagementIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immigration Plan
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
Insect ControlDon’t Turn Your Back On Striped Blister Beetles
November 21, 2014
Learn how to ID, the survival and spread, as well as management methods of this vegetable pest. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
NutsArizona Pistachio And Pecan Growers Benefiting From High Prices
November 21, 2014
Pecan production alone is expected to double in the next 10 years. Read More
Apples & PearsOn The Road With The International Fruit Tree Association Study Tour To Italy Part 2 [Slideshow]
November 21, 2014
Attention to detail is evident in the production of high quality feathered apple trees at GRIBA’s nursery. Read More
Fruits2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Outstanding
November 21, 2014
It’s the earliest crop of the decade, but still a third in a string of great vintages. Read More
FruitsFetzer Vineyards Pioneers Zero Waste
November 21, 2014
Company achieves top sustainability certification by diverting 98% of its waste from the landfill. Read More
VegetablesFormer Harris Seeds Co. CEO, Per Jensen, Passes At 85
November 21, 2014
A passion for plants defined longtime industry influencer. Read More
GrapesPerfect Storm Hurts New York Concord Grape Growers
November 21, 2014
More than 10,000 tons of juice grapes are abandoned because of too much production and no market. Read More
FruitsClassic Turkey Day Dinner Costing Consumers More This Year
November 20, 2014
Despite increase, a family of 10 can still get stuffed for less than $50. Read More

The Latest

Farm ManagementIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immig…
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
Insect ControlDon’t Turn Your Back On Striped Blister Beetles
November 21, 2014
Learn how to ID, the survival and spread, as well as management methods of this vegetable pest. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
NutsArizona Pistachio And Pecan Growers Benefiting From Hig…
November 21, 2014
Pecan production alone is expected to double in the next 10 years. Read More
Apples & PearsOn The Road With The International Fruit Tree Associati…
November 21, 2014
Attention to detail is evident in the production of high quality feathered apple trees at GRIBA’s nursery. Read More
Fruits2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Outstanding
November 21, 2014
It’s the earliest crop of the decade, but still a third in a string of great vintages. Read More
FruitsFetzer Vineyards Pioneers Zero Waste
November 21, 2014
Company achieves top sustainability certification by diverting 98% of its waste from the landfill. Read More
VegetablesFormer Harris Seeds Co. CEO, Per Jensen, Passes At 85
November 21, 2014
A passion for plants defined longtime industry influencer. Read More
GrapesPerfect Storm Hurts New York Concord Grape Growers
November 21, 2014
More than 10,000 tons of juice grapes are abandoned because of too much production and no market. Read More
FruitsClassic Turkey Day Dinner Costing Consumers More This Y…
November 20, 2014
Despite increase, a family of 10 can still get stuffed for less than $50. Read More
Insect ControlFlorida Vegetable Growers Gain Access To New Nematicide
November 20, 2014
Methyl bromide alternative Nimitz approved for use on tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, and squash. Read More
EquipmentHighlights From EIMA International In Italy [Slideshow]
November 19, 2014
The 2014 edition of the International Agricultural and Gardening Machinery Exhibition (EIMA) boasted a record number of attendees from 124 countries. Read More
Farm ManagementVegetableGrowerConnect Delivers Results For Growers And…
November 19, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Browse this slideshow for VegetableGrowerConnect highlights. Read More
FruitsFixing Farm Labor Woes Worth The Extra Effort [Opinion]
November 19, 2014
40th annual Ag Labor Relations Forum encourages outreach and action. Read More
BerriesPackaging Company’s Campaign To Benefit Future Organi…
November 19, 2014
Sambrailo Packaging of Watsonville, CA, has partnered with California Certified Organic Farmers and will donate a portion of the sales of clamshells made from plastic bottles. Read More
Apples & PearsOn The Road With The International Fruit Tree Associati…
November 19, 2014
Win Cowgill of Rutgers University details a trip through the one of the most concentrated fruit growing areas in the world, the South Tyrol region of Italy. Read More
IrrigationAlmond Grower Honored For Water Efficiency
November 18, 2014
Ongoing drought highlights the efforts of third-generation Madera County grower Tom Rogers. Read More
CitrusWomen’s Impact On Agriculture Impressive [Opinion…
November 18, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the long-term sustainability of farming depends on our youth. Read More