Continuing their commitment to improving water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, Luckey Farmers, Inc. facilities in Berkey, Bradner and Graytown have achieved certified status for year three through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. The voluntary certification program is a concentrated effort by the agriculture industry to significantly reduce and prevent applied nutrients from running off fields, which has contributed to water quality issues in Lake Erie. Facilities are required to meet certain program goals each year to retain certified status.
With the program in its sixth year, the Luckey Farmers facilities in Berkey, Bradner and Graytown join a growing list of facilities to achieve year three certified status. Luckey Farmers’ three large-scale agronomy hubs in Berkey, Bradner and Graytown employ over a third of Luckey Farmers’ total workforce. As a part of the certification process, the growers that work closely with Luckey Farmers are educated on 4R best practices including but not limited to soil tests, field maps, nutrient recommendations and rates applied analysis.
Tom Schuffenecker has been working with Luckey Farmers agronomists Brice Gahler and Doug Uher for several years and was an early adoptor of the 4R Stewardship program.
“4R Nutrient training is another part my yearly planning process for my farming operation. Through a strip-till plan, I have not had to spread potash or phosphorus and I still have enough nutrients in the soil for two more growing seasons,” said Schuffenecker. “The soil sampling and nutrient analysis that Brice and Doug are able to present to me gives me the confidence that we are doing the right thing for the environment, but are not short changing my crop nutrients or my economics.”
Since technology plays an integral role within the 4Rs, specifically regarding record keeping, Luckey Farmers has made several technological investments within the last few years to ensure data transparency. Record keeping has become digitalized, nutrient recommendations are uploaded and received online and the Luckey Farmers fleet of machines have been outfitted with technology that allows a real time roadmap of their location and job function.
“The 4R Nutrient Stewardship program plays an integral role within Luckey Farmers’ agronomic decision making. As a part of our commitment to responsible, sustainable and economical farming practices, we have put into place technology and infrastructure that aligns with 4R best practices,” said Andy Swerlein, president and CEO of Luckey Farmers. “We understand it’s our job to protect our water systems and sustain our farm land and by adopting and maintaining these practices, we are well on our way to ensuring the protection of these valuable resources for future generations.”
The 4R Program certifies nutrient service providers in the Western Lake Erie Basin and across the state of Ohio that apply or make recommendations are doing so in accordance with 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles – which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place. Program participants must go through an annual, independent, third-party audit and demonstrate they not only understand 4R principles, but also follow them.
Approximately 3.07 million acres and more than 7,000 grower customers are serviced by the 52 facilities in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana that have earned 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification.
“The certification program is an ongoing effort for participants and we are proud of the continued commitment shown by Luckey Farmers,” said OSAE Member and Foundation Board Treasurer Andrew Allman, who serves as executive director of the Nutrient Stewardship Council.
To learn more about the Nutrient Stewardship Council, please select this link.