2016 Advocates

Thomas Connors

Grower: Thomas Connors Retailer: Regan Wear (CHS Shipman)


Calvin Haile

Grower: Calvin Haile Retailer: Lucas Householder (Southern States Cooperative)



Ric Rodriguez

Grower: Ric Rodriguez Retailer: Joe Bridges (JR Simplot Company)



Darin Stolte

Grower: Darin Stolte Retailer: Jimmie Daugherty (River Valley Coop)



The 2016 4R Advocate winners were announced in mid-December 2015. The winning nominating retailers, growers and a guest of each grower participated in an expense-paid trip to the 2016 Commodity Classic on March 3-5, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Grower: Thomas Connors Retailer: Regan Wear (CHS Shipman) State: Illinois

What Thomas Says About the 4Rs:

“I’ve used the 4Rs since the ‘90s. I look for ways to be proactive in my operation and to behave responsibly for the environment and social good. Increased efficiency creates the economics and profitability. As improvements have been made, the amount of nutrients leaving my fields is minimal to none. I’m proactive to stay ahead of regulations, be socially responsive to the public good and provide a sustainable operation that my family can farm for generations to come.”

What Regan Says About the 4Rs:

“Tom is very innovative and uses many tools to better manage his nutrient applications to maximize crop production, yet be environmentally and economically sound. It’s not about a one-year gain in profitability. He looks at the long-term picture. He looks at overall sustainability by taking care of his soils while being sensitive to nutrient loss. With tiled fields, he uses 4R Nutrient Stewardship Principles to protect the watershed. He takes extra precautions with nitrate leaching and subsurface drainage. He has kept tremendous records and works diligently with our CHS Yield Point Staff to put the data to work for decision making to contribute to his farm’s long-term sustainability.”


Grower: Calvin Haile Retailer: Lucas Householder (Southern States Cooperative) State: Virginia

What Calvin Says About the 4Rs:

“With 4Rs, we put the fertilizer where we need it. We cannot afford to put down fertilizer where it will not be utilized by the crop in the field. Since we started grid sampling and variable rate applying fertilizer and lime, it’s easy to see I am saving money by not over-applying product. I can also see more even and consistent yields throughout my fields.”

What Lucas Says About the 4Rs:

“Calvin is a progressive grower who looks for ways to increase yield while increasing profitability and sustainability. The 4Rs and the practices used on his farm have increased yields while reducing fertilizer and lime applications. Applying the 4Rs to his operation has allowed Calvin to achieve better yields and accomplish economic goals by increasing his farm net income.”


Grower: Ric Rodriguez Retailer: Joe Bridges (JR Simplot Company) State: Wyoming

What Ric Says About the 4Rs:

“We’ve been using a 4R-type program for years. With our sandy loam soil, it’s critical that we get the right amount of fertilizer put down at the right time. By conducting extensive soil tests, we have developed a nutrient zone or range we need for sugar beets and malt barley. We can get custom applications rates to get the kind of yields we need. About half our acres are under center pivots. We’ve been able to cut our watering rates and use less water. That all helps in our 4R program.”

What Joe Says About the 4Rs:

“Our area is unique to a lot of other cropping systems, based off our flood irrigation. We have enough readily available water, so guys have been slow to adopt some of the newer practices. 4R has helped us to bring about some of the newer technologies to be better stewards of the ground and more cost effective and still be as productive as we have been in the past. With Ric putting in center pivots, which provide more variability, he is seeing the benefits and advantages of being more conservative with fertilizer needs. It has become extremely beneficial to our area.”


Grower: Lowell Myerholtz, David Myerholtz Retailer: John Fritz (The Andersons, Inc.) State: Ohio

What David Says About the 4Rs:

““Nutrient runoff has been known to be an issue in this area. A 4R protocol and statement help show that what we are doing makes good environmental sense. We’ve been doing things the right way for years, but we need to help raise the bar for everyone and make all farmers want to do more.””

What John Says About the 4Rs:

“As one of the first ag retailers to be certified in the Western Lake Erie Basin 4R Certification Program, the Andersons works closely with its customers to encourage them to use best management practices in their farming operations.”


Grower: Darin Stolte Retailer: Jimmie Daugherty (River Valley Coop) State: Iowa

What Darin Says About the 4Rs:

“I’ve been using the 4Rs for some time. I’ve increased my yields by utilizing nutrients more efficiently. I’m able to reduce nutrient runoff by applying them when the crop is ready to uptake them. I also use split-applied nitrogen because I have many soil types and some cannot hold a large amount of nutrient at once. Using the 4Rs is like when you feed your cow herd. You don’t put all the feed out the same day. You feed them everyday. Producing a crop is no different. By using 4Rs, I hope to be a role model for area farmers to teach them that there are better ways to farm.”

What Jimmie Says About the 4Rs:

“We at River Valley like the 4Rs and what the concept provides growers. We’re dramatically increasing grower profitability and their efficiency in fertilizer use. We’re taking technology that’s available to apply the right fertilizer in the right application methods. With that and better corn hybrids, it’s better for the environment and better for the bottom line. We’re improving the sustainability and showing substantially better yields, sometimes 20 bushels better than the county average.”