Following the 4Rs for Conservation

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water conservation

At the forefront of conservation, farmers play a critical role in keeping water clean.

Rollo Burnett grows corn, soybeans, wheat and hay on his farm near Metropolis. He says several practices on his land aid in conservation, such as terraces, dry dams (which allow water to run through except during intense periods of rain in order to control flooding), no-till and minimum tillage farming, cover crops, and testing the soil regularly for fertilizer application.

“I know it looks like I’m terrace and dry dam crazy, but it works,” says Burnett, adding that nutrient stewardship affects everyone, so farmers need to pay close attention.

Ken Beck, a corn and soybean farmer in Mendota, follows the 4R conservation method, a strategy promoting best management practices for farmers. The 4R principles include using the right source of fertilizer, the right rate of fertilizer for crop needs, applying nutrients at the right time and keeping nutrients in the right place where crops can use them.

“The 4R method is very strong within the nutrient loss reduction strategy,” Beck says, explaining that it helps farmers with guidelines to avoid being wasteful.

Paige Buck of the NRCS adds that the 4R method works no matter the amount of acreage. Even if you’re just putting a little bit of fertilizer on, it still applies, she says.

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