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 ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s AppletizeMe Personality Quiz Help Consumers Find Ideal Apple Varieties and Perfect Food Pairings
October 22, 2014
Award-winning national apple month campaign returns with more featured varieties and informative videos. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Development Innovation
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Partner With Grocer To Introduce SnapDragon Apples
October 22, 2014
First apples of this new variety to hit Wegmans stores as part of a marketing effort. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Conservation Impacts On Water Quality
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
Stone FruitIntroducing A Gem Of A Peach For Central Florida
October 22, 2014
The newest variety to come from the UF Stone Fruit Breeding Program is another “gem,” UFGem! This peach variety is Read More

The Latest

Farm ManagementBill Gates Uploading Lots Of Florida Farmland
October 22, 2014
Recent acquisition for the Microsoft icon involves more than 4,500 acres for nearly $28 million. Read More
GenNext GrowersRegister Now For The GenNext Growers Webcast
October 22, 2014
In the first installment of the GenNext Webcast Series, you will learn how to engage with lawmakers and ag associations to help shape a better future for your business and for agriculture. Read More
FruitsAnnual Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting Approaching
October 22, 2014
The meeting will focus on IPM practices, weed management, updates on fumigation, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsUSApple’s AppletizeMe Personality Quiz Help Consumers…
October 22, 2014
Award-winning national apple month campaign returns with more featured varieties and informative videos. Read More
Farm ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million To Stimulate Research And Devel…
October 22, 2014
The grants will provide resources to help small operations create breakthroughs, says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read More
CitrusEPA Launches Program To Reduce Pesticide Drift
October 22, 2014
The voluntary star-rating program aims to protect people, wildlife and the environment. Read More
CitrusMcCrometer Introduces New Ag Management Mobile App
October 22, 2014
The app displays data on weather, ET, soil moisture, water flow, and more. Read More
Apples & PearsNew York Apple Growers Partner With Grocer To Introduce…
October 22, 2014
First apples of this new variety to hit Wegmans stores as part of a marketing effort. Read More
CitrusAgriculture, Interior Departments Partner To Measure Co…
October 22, 2014
Goal is to provide science-based information for watershed wellness. Read More
Stone FruitIntroducing A Gem Of A Peach For Central Florida
October 22, 2014
The newest variety to come from the UF Stone Fruit Breeding Program is another “gem,” UFGem! This peach variety is Read More
CitrusIt’s Time For Young Farming Leaders To Engage [Op…
October 21, 2014
Florida Grower editor Frank Giles says there are capable and talented youths in the ag field ready to step up and take the reins. Read More
Farm ManagementResearchers Finding Biofuel Fits For Florida
October 21, 2014
Alternative crops identified that are suited for the state's climate and can easily be processed for power. Read More
CitrusBayer CropScience Launches New Award To Recognize Produ…
October 21, 2014
Award recognizes innovation that enhances the role of produce in creating better lives. Read More
FruitsCalifornia Department Of Food And Agriculture Awards $3…
October 21, 2014
State Water Efficiency And Enhancement Program highlights projects implement irrigation systems that reduce water and energy use. Read More
FruitsWashington State University Researchers See How Plants …
October 21, 2014
Results could lead to development of crops that recover from sun damage more easily. Read More
CitrusReport: Major Food And Agriculture Employers Can’t Fi…
October 21, 2014
Current shortage of young farming professionals means ample employment opportunity for the next generation. Read More
Apples & PearsInvasive Pest Found First Time In U.S. At Border Crossi…
October 20, 2014
Moth known to feed on apples, apple buds, leaves, and shoots, is found in a container full of pump valves originating in China. Read More
More Vegetables6 Savory Tomato And Pepper Varieties For Florida Grower…
October 20, 2014
Leading vegetable seed companies highlight a half dozen high-performance selections for producers in the Sunshine State. Read More