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
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under 55 Years Old
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus Greening Research
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Postbloom Fruit Drop symptoms on Florida ctirus
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Postbloom Fruit Drop
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimum Wage by 30% by Next Year
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
a trio of peaches
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Specialty Crops
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Receives Cornell’s Excellence in IPM Award 
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine Industry
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Florida [Opinion]
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach
Disease Control
January 20, 2017
Don’t Let Stemphylium Leaf Spot Stump Your Spinach Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
The Latest
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under…
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus G…
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Post…
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimu…
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Speci…
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Rec…
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine In…
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
Farm Marketing
January 20, 2017
Direct Marketing Revenue Topped $8 Billi…
USDA has released its first-ever survey on direct marketing, and it shows that the local food industry is huge. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Disease Control
January 20, 2017
Don’t Let Stemphylium Leaf Spot St…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s…
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Grapes
January 19, 2017
U.S. Challenges Canadian Trade Measures …
Trade enforcement action challenges British Columbia regulations that unfairly exclude U.S. wine from grocery store shelves. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel …
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
Fruits
January 19, 2017
Funding Available to Improve Ag, Food Sc…
USDA announces $18.9 million for ag education at 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the heat gets turned up on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Vegetables
January 18, 2017
Southwest Growers Are Best Prepared for …
Almost half of all Southwest operations are grooming its next generation of leadership — an alarmingly low statistic, but one that is the highest in the country, according to American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2017 State of the Vegetable Industry survey. Read More