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4R Nutrient Stewardship


4R Nutrient Stewardship

Right product, Right rate, Right time, Right place.



The 4R Certification standards were created by the 4R Ontario Steering Committee in close collaboration with the Nutrient Stewardship Council, the Ohio Agri-Business Association and The Fertilizer Institute in the U.S. to ensure alignment between cross-border efforts to implement 4R Nutrient Stewardship and minimize nutrient losses under the 4R Certification Program. The standards are reflective of the best available science, technology and regulatory requirements for Ontario conditions. 

Members of the 4R Ontario Steering Committee represent a diversity of stakeholders including Fertilizer Canada; the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA); the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA); the Grain Farmers of Ontario; the Ontario Federation of Agriculture; the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario; Conservation Ontario; The Nature Conservancy – Ohio; the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change; the International Plant Nutrition Institute; the Ontario Certified Crop Advisor Board; and Ontario agri-retailers. 

4R Nutrient Stewardship is being implemented across Ontario through a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC), formalized in 2015 alongside the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Fertilizer Canada; and the Ontario Agri Business Association (OABA). The three MOC signatories collaborated with the previously mentioned partners to form the 4R Ontario Steering Committee. The Ontario 4R Certification program, modelled after the program being adopted by agri-retailers in Ohio, encourages agri-retailers, nutrient service providers and certified professionals to adopt science-based, proven 4R Nutrient Stewardship Best Management Practices (BMPs). 

4R Nutrient Stewardship BMPs must be customized to fit each farm’s unique climatic, soil, cropping and operational conditions. Continuous improvement can be achieved by employing science that optimizes the economic, social and environmental performance of BMPs utilized in implementing the voluntary 4R Nutrient Stewardship program in Ontario. These standards, and the corresponding evidence to meet those standards, will be audited by a private, third-party to provide a consistent, recognized program for Ontario agri-retailers.

The ultimate goal of 4R Nutrient Stewardship is to protect our environment without compromising crop yields. AGRIS and its farmer-owners share this goal.
Jim Campbell, General Manager, AGRIS Co-op

The Ontario agriculture industry is committed to working towards the long-term improvement of the Great Lakes water quality. By supporting the need to protect and restore the ecological health of the Great Lakes, we are committed to being a part of the solution to ensuring the Great Lakes remain “drinkable, swimmable and fishable.” The industry recognizes the potential for regulations, the importance of environmental stewardship and its role in ensuring the proper use of fertilizer. Additionally, end-use customers are starting to demand that steps be taken to prove the agricultural industry is committed to sustainable practices. 

Food companies and sustainable supply chain initiatives recognize the value of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework so we can assist growers in addressing compliance questions and assist in accessing new markets for their products. It will be critical for members of Canada’s value chain to respond in a proactive and cohesive manner to the challenges and opportunities presented by the growing global demand for sustainably grown ingredients.

The audit standards can be found here:


Our recommendation approach to Nutrient Management

We base our nutrient recommendation on a build, maintain or drawdown basis. When soil sample values are low, we make recommendations greater than crop removal to build soil test levels. When soil tests are at targeted levels, we maintain with crop removal values. When soil tests are high, we make recommendations which are less than crop removal and at times a zero rate to drawdown soil fertility values and take advantage of over applications from the past. This approach assures that nutrients are neither deficient limiting crop performance or excessive impacting on the size of your environmental footprint. Optimizing harvested yield and maximizing nutrient use efficiency is the goal.

Compliance with the 4R Audit Process and agronomy advice begins with using current soil test results (minimum every 4 years) to make current nutrient recommendations.
Dale Cowan, Agronomy Strategy Manager and Senior Agronomist, AGRIS Co-op

Site-specific 4R Nutrient Stewardship

Our BUILD - MAINTENANCE - DRAWDOWN recommendation system will support these nutrient goals:

  1. Right Product
  2. Right Rate
  3. Right Time
  4. Right Place

4R nutrient stewardship drawdown chart


Farmers are the original caretakers of the land and soil, and for over 60 years, have turned to their local FS Company for trusted advice, products and services in supporting their noble profession. As local cooperatives, FS Companies believe it is their responsibility to ensure that our earth, our communities, and businesses perform together, sustainably. FS Companies are committed to ensuring the continued profitability for the company, their owners, and their customers while acting to help the environment and the greater good. FS Companies have joined their regional supply cooperative GROWMARK, in launching a new sustainability initiative called Endure that reinforces the organization's commitment to sustainability and recognizes those practices that help us all endure and prosper over time.


Enduring Farms
The FS System created the Enduring Farm Award to award farmers who have excelled to preserve and improve their land and natural resources for future generations by utilizing proven best management practices such as using the 4Rs of nutrient management, soil sampling, phosphorus management, and nitrogen management .
Endure 4R Advocates
Endure 4R Advocates are individuals throughout the FS System who have been recognized for supporting growers in sustainable best management farming practices, demonstrating economic and environmental benefits.

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