4R Certification is a voluntary, industry-led program that allows agri-retailers in Ontario to train their crop advisors and align with the sustainability principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (Right Source @ Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place®) through a third-party audit of 37 standards.
Faced with increasing pressures, the Ontario agriculture industry is looking for innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient losses to key water bodies, especially the Great Lakes. For Sylvite, becoming a 4R Certified agri-retailer was a way to demonstrate their leadership in addressing those challenges head on.
“As an agri-retailer, we need to do everything we can to protect the environment and be good stewards of agriculture,” said Cassandra Loomans, Vice President at Sylvite, “and I think that’s exactly what 4R Nutrient Stewardship does.”
Sylvite has been involved in 4R Certification since its creation, working closely with Fertilizer Canada and the Ontario Agri Business Association to help develop the program’s implementation. Modeled after a program of the same name in Ohio, 4R Certification offers agri-retailers a way to provide sustainability advice to their grower customers and quantify the results to tell the story of sustainable agriculture in Ontario.
“It’s important that we show that we’re doing everything we can in order to use fertilizer correctly and promote that to our growers,” Loomans said. “Using the 4Rs with the right product at the right rate, the right time and the right place is exactly how we can better maintain our quality of land and our waterways.”
As a 4R Certified retailer, Sylvite adheres to 37 auditable standards that ensure their grower customers are receiving science-based best management practices under 4R Nutrient Stewardship that are proven to reduce environmental impacts while improving yields and economic return. Loomans said it was a win-win business move for the company to be affiliated with a strong sustainability brand.
“I hope that the benefit to us in the future is that we continue to build our reputation as a trusted retailer, that the grower understands we are not just trying to push product out the door, but that we’re trying to give them exactly what they need to increase their yield and protect the environment,” she said. “I think the growers are pleased to see that we’re offering these services and that they’re available to them.”
To date, Sylvite has advised grower customers with almost 5,000 total farm acres using 4R Nutrient Stewardship. By tracking these acres, 4R Certified retailers are able to help measure implementation of sustainable agriculture on acres they manage and submit them to Fertilizer Canada. Fertilizer Canada’s goal is to count and capture verified acres under 4R Nutrient Stewardship as a way to demonstrate the industry’s commitment to sustainability.
“As an industry, in order for us to be responsible we need to make a collective effort for all of us to be part of the 4Rs and to work hard towards them,” Loomans said. “I think every retailer needs to be jumping on this wagon and promoting the positive impacts, and that we as an industry have identified an issue and we’re doing everything we can to rectify it.”
As an early-adopter of 4R Certification, Loomans said Sylvite is hoping to be an example of the economic, environmental and social benefits of promoting 4R Nutrient Stewardship.
“We’re looking towards a really bright and exciting future in agriculture and we really see the 4Rs taking us into that future,” she said.
Learn more about 4R Certification at 4rcertified.ca.