Field to Market (FtM) is a diverse group of stakeholders from the agricultural supply chain building consensus on sustainable commodity agriculture. Over 50 FtM members represent grower organizations, agribusinesses, food, fiber, and retail companies, conservation groups, universities, and agency partners. FtM focuses on promoting, defining and measuring the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production. FtM follows a science and outcomes-based, technology neutral approach to understand and promote sustainability for U.S. commodity crops.
Fertilizer use management decisions play a key role in sustainable crop nutrition, and implementation of nutrient stewardship best management practices can be the basis for good decision making. At a recent FtM meeting, the 4Rs were recognized as a necessary component for sustainable agriculture. The Field to Market board voted to become a 4R Partner, and they approved integration of 4R practices into their sustainability index, the Field Print Calculator.
The Field Print Calculator is a free and confidential educational resource to help growers explore relationships between management practices and sustainability outcomes. Growers can model their performance at the field level to test scenarios and compare their performance to local, state and national averages. The FPC currently measures seven metrics: Land Use, Soil Erosion, Soil Carbon, Irrigation Water Use, Water quality, Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. Land use, soil erosion, irrigation water use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions are calculated as an efficiency (per unit of production). Soil carbon and water quality are calculated using qualitative indices indicating relative direction and level of impact on specific resources. To use the calculator, growers enter site specific location and cropping system information (such as crop rotation, tillage, irrigation, nutrient and pest management, transportation and drying and conservation practices) and then compare their results to averages to evaluate how practice modification can reduce their footprint.
During the next year, the fertilizer industry will be working with FtM to modify the GHG metric in the Field Print Calculator. This effort will integrate the 4Rs into the index, providing an alternative to evaluating sustainability solely on fertilizer application rate.
Video of FtM President Rod Snyder discussion FieldPrint Calculator and 4Rs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYkkDIsxa8Q