Ag retail-serviced acres of variable rate technology (VRT), cover crops, rotational soil testing, and other phosphorus-saving strategies continue to grow in the Sandusky River Watershed and the Great Lakes Basin, according to an article on CropLife.com. Sixty-two Great Lakes Basin ag retailers participating in the Partnership for Ag Resource Management (PARM) reported 2016 sales of products and services that help keep phosphorus fertilizer on cropland, and out of waterways.
In the Sandusky River Watershed, where the project began, variable rate phosphorus application increased 19% last year, from 51% to 70% of acreage serviced by participating ag retailers. Based on published study results in scientific journals, the project partners estimate these variable rate acres alone have cut phosphorus losses in the Western Lake Erie Basin by more than one million lbs. Acres with cover crops, which are crops planted in late summer to keep the ground covered over the winter, increased from 10% to 22%. Soil sampling and testing, to determine nutrient levels in the soil, and apply fertilizer accordingly, doubled.
The sales of the products and services promoted by the Partnership have translated to increased profits by ag retailers. A majority of Sandusky retailers reported profits in variable rate phosphorus application, foliar feeding and soil testing, with 100%, 90% and 60% of ag retailers stating profits, respectively. These products and services, many of which fit into the popular 4R framework, represent a “triple win” by providing revenue opportunities for ag retailers, improving net returns for farmers and keeping phosphorus on crop land and out of the water.