4Rs won’t solve water quality alone

A leader with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service says the 4R nutrient stewardship program adopted in the Western Lake Erie Basin is an important component of improving water quality, but more must be done long-term.

Kevin King says the 4Rs -right source, right rate, right time, right place -are the “eating right and exercising of farming,” but farmers must take a holistic approach to nutrient management.

“There are other things that we need to be thinking about and we have to understand the interaction of those processes before we’re ever really going to solve the problem.”

He tells Brownfield water management is often overlooked and by keeping water on the field, they’ll keep nutrients on the field.

“So, practices such as drainage water management where we artificially raise the outlet elevation of a tile, practices such as blind inlets where we take those surface inlets out of place and put what I call a reverse leach field in place also has a big impact,” he says.

King says cover crops and gypsum help build organic matter and improve corn and soybean fields.

He spoke to Brownfield during the 4R Technology Review Field Day in Ohio.

Audio: Kevin King, USDA-ARS

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