Tripartite agreement signed to promote nutrient management in Manitoba

The Canadian Fertilizer Institute will spend $150,000 over three years 
with the Manitoba government and KAP as its partners

Anew program promoting improved nutrient management among Manitoba farmers was launched last week by the Canadian Fertilizer Institute (CFI), the Manitoba government and the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP).

The three signed a 4R Nutrient stewardship memorandum of understanding Jan. 15 during Ag Days.

CFI will provide $150,000 over three years to fund the extension program, which will include online learning, workshops and demonstration plots, officials told reporters during a news conference.

Agronomists from Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives will assist in training the trainers, said Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn. KAP will encourage its members to participate and assure the practices being promoted are practical for farmers, Chorney said.

“We have a really unique level of co-operation between industry, farmers and government and I think this is how we’re really going to move things forward and make change really happen on farms here in Manitoba,” he said.

The four “Rs” of nutrient management are using the right source of fertilizer, at the right rate, right time and in the right place.

“The four principles help to ensure that nutrient run-off and other impacts are minimized,” Kostyshyn said.

Although not formally part of the agreement, Lake Friendly, a coalition of municipal leaders around the south basin of Lake Winnipeg, is supporting the initiative, said its executive director Colleen Sklar.

“I think when we stop pointing fingers and start working together that’s when we’re going to get the greatest impact (on reducing nutrients in water),” she said later in an interview. “To see an event where everyone is at the table I think is really important.”

Manitoba farmers are good stewards, but there are always ways to improve, said Chorney, who farms at East Selkirk. It doesn’t make economic sense for farmers to overapply fertilizer because it’s so expensive, he said.

“I want to use those dollars as efficiently as possible and be a good steward of the environment,” Chorney said.

Through the 4R system farmers can reduce their fertilizer costs, boost yields, sequester carbon in the soil and help improve water quality, said Lindsay Kaspick of Koch Fertilizer Canada ULC and CFI director.

“Our goal for this partnership is to communicate to farmers the benefits of the 4Rs and to increase the number of farmers who use these best management practices,” he said.

Manitoba is the first western province to sign on to the program, which CFI hopes will eventually be implemented across Canada, he said.

Phosphorus levels are rising in Lake Winnipeg and are coming from rural and urban areas. Farmland flooding, which farmers have little or no control over, is another contributor, but there are ways to mitigate the impact such as rehabilitating marshes, creating buffer strips and holding flood water back, Sklar said.

“We believe everybody has a role in protecting our waters,” she said.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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