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 ( 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 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:

- For more about Florida’s BMPs, go to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Water Policy website at

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

CitrusHarness The Marketing Power Of Video
September 1, 2014
Multimedia platform is an effective and inexpensive marketing tool for you to attract new customers and keep existing ones loyal to your brand. Read More
Citrus Achievement AwardDespite Industry Challenges, Florida Citrus Leader Has …
September 1, 2014
2014 Florida Grower Citrus Achievement Award winner Mike Sparks feels confident in crop sector's ability to regain strength. Read More
Florida Ag ExpoFood Safety Modernization Act Is On The Plate
September 1, 2014
Florida Ag Expo agenda to serve up important features of looming regulations. Read More
CEU SeriesCEU Series: Put Weeds Out To Pasture
September 1, 2014
No matter where they are, plants out of place can be problematic. Read More
TomatoesProduction Reaches An All-Time High For Processing Toma…
August 29, 2014
A record high is predicted for the 2014 processing tomato crop. Read More
CitrusFlorida Department Of Citrus Knocks NPR Piece Over Juic…
August 28, 2014
Agency goes to bat for the industry regarding statement slighting OJ's health benefits. Read More
Disease ControlLate Blight Update Reveals Heightened Activity
August 28, 2014
While several states in the Northeast have confirmed the presence of late blight, the disease has not been reported in North Dakota or Minnesota. Read More
CitrusFlorida Energy Firm Charged Up About Citrus Biomass Pot…
August 28, 2014
Machine called a game-changer when it comes to a cost-effective, efficient way for tree removal and re-purposing. Read More
EquipmentNew Tractors Improve Maneuverability And Operator Contr…
August 28, 2014
The Magnum Rowtrac tractors from Case IH meet growers’ cropping needs through a wide variety of row spacing and belt options.   Read More
NutsCalifornia County Passes Ordinance To Protect Walnut Gr…
August 27, 2014
Verification of ownership needed to complete sales of valuable nuts. Read More
NutsAlmond Growers Hit By Russian Import Limits
August 27, 2014
Growers reflect on changes to export market in light of produce ban. Read More
Farm ManagementLeadership And Management Expert To Speak At California…
August 27, 2014
Daniel Goleman will make presentation at California State University-Fresno. Read More
CitrusNational Scientific Summit On Herbicide Resistant Weeds…
August 27, 2014
Topics to be covered include the economics of proactively managing herbicide resistance, education and outreach efforts, and incentives and regulatory initiatives. Read More
FruitsFlorida Organic Group Dedicated To Serving Growers, Com…
August 27, 2014
Education and development programs are plentiful for interested producers. Read More
VegetablesExperimental Herbicide Technology Blasts Weeds In Rows
August 27, 2014
The technology uses an air compressor to spray corncob grit on both sides of a crop, killing young weeds. Read More
Disease ControlFungal Disease Outbreak Hits Pacific Northwest Vegetabl…
August 27, 2014
An outbreak of blackleg, light leaf spot, and white leaf spot can be significant problems in several vegetable crops.   Read More
CitrusClean Water Conundrum: Ditch The Rule Or Ditch The Myth…
August 26, 2014
Regulation inundation causing a rising tide of confusion for farmers. Read More
BerriesMichigan State University Extension Offers Tips To Prev…
August 26, 2014
Humidity, rainy periods conducive to disease development. Read More