What is in this article?:
- Corn yields nearly double with less fertilizer use
- Essential components
• In 1980, farmers grew 6.64 billion bushels of corn using 3.9 pounds of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) for each bushel and in 2010 they grew 12.45 billion bushels using 1.6 pounds of nutrients per bushel produced.
“Fertilizer nutrients are essential components in food, feed, fiber and fuel production and we anticipate that maximizing production from future new seed varieties will require a diet that can only be met through the efficient use of commercially produced fertilizers.”
This achievement shown in the USDA data is notable for its environmental, economic and social benefits.
Each additional bushel of corn produced through these efficiencies can in turn produce either 6 pounds of beef, 13 pounds of pork, 20 pounds of chicken, or 28 pounds of fish for dinner plates in the United States and around the world.
Increasingly, U.S. farmers’ fertilizer use has been under intense scrutiny for its potential impact on treasured water bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The USDA data demonstrates that farmers are caring for the nation’s water resources in large part through voluntary efforts.
“Efficient food production and protection of the environment are not mutually exclusive goals,” said West.
“Farmers across the country including in the watersheds that drain to the Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River can be proud that their adoption of site specific nutrient management and their use of higher yielding varieties of corn are making a substantial and even massive contributions to the effort to reduce nutrient losses to waters across the nation.”
“While our critics’ voices are often louder than our advocates — the numbers don’t lie — this new data shows yet one more reason agriculture is a leader in environmental stewardship.
“We think this is a triumph of the role science and economics in sustainable farming and expect that through the more widespread adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship, (use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, right time and right place) farmers and the fertilizer industry will continue to help feed a growing world population.”
Additional information and resources on 4R nutrient stewardship is available at www.nutrientstewardship.com.