What does 4 R stand for? No, it’s not for readin’, ‘rightin’, ‘rithmatic and recess. But it is for using the right nutrient, at the right time, in the right amount, in the right location and more.
So what ! Who cares ? Who dreamed up this one? Does it matter? The answer is, yes. All of us, who use nitrogen and phosphorous, will be called upon to voluntarily examine our use, application, sales, purchases of these two nutrients.
4R emphasis. The reason for the 4R emphasis is the knowledge that these two nutrients are the ‘drivers’ for accelerated algae growth in bodies of water. Generally, over the years, algae has been considered a nuisance and fact of life in ponds, streams and lakes. Today, the algae concern is real and has been linked with toxicity to humans and animals with new species of algae arriving in our northern climates.
Agricultural has its share of responsibility in help solving this problem. As one dairy farmer told me one time, ”I have sent a lot of ‘vitamins’ downstream”. A lot of it he had paid for when fertilizer was cheaper and the remaining portion, he had not managed his manure successfully.
But he is not alone. Others have a role to play as well. Treatment plant operators will have their continuing role to play. So will homeowners with lawns and gardens. So will homeowners with septic systems So will lawn care providers.
So will golf courses and recreational field managers. So will developers.
Man is not alone. Even mother nature contributes a portion of these naturally occurring nutrients through vegetative decay, rainfall, dust, storms, etc. We just add more to it and sometimes much more.
Phosphorous has the ability to accumulate in water bodies over time and when certain temperature and conditions are right the growth of algae occurs.
State government agencies like OEPA, ODNR and the Ohio Department of Agriculture and many agricultural organizations etc, have agreed efforts need to be made to bring to light the need for responsible nutrient use to help combat the algae problem.
Questions arise, how much nitrogen and phosphorous is used and where? Will it become regulated ? if so, by whom ? Will education efforts target farming practices ? Will something be mandated ? Will manure plans be enforced ? Will soil testing be necessary ? Some of the answers to these questions can put us on some slippery slopes. Where do you stand? Where does your organization stand? How does your nutrient use stack up ?
Our organization, the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, has geared up to help us in each county to have materials and promotional items to use locally. Our office, like many others, will be engaged in the 4R tomorrow program into the future creating awareness and forming some coalitions locally.
Feel free to get in touch with your local office for potential activities, participation, information, assistance and support to try helpful techniques. Do it before it’s too late !