Farmers using fertilizer with record-breaking efficiency

WASHINGTON—Farmers are growing more crops with less fertilizer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The latest fertilizer application rate data from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service shows that in 2014, U.S. farmers more than doubled corn production using only 4.5 percent more fertilizer nutrients than in 1980.

Specifically, in 1980 farmers grew 6.64 billion bushels of corn using 3.2 pounds of nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—for each bushel, and in 2014 they grew 14.22 billion bushels using 1.6 pounds of nutrients per bushel.

“This trend of continuous environmental and economic performance improvement is something that agriculture producers are very proud of, and the farmers and businesses that serve farmers will continue to improve efficiency,” said Wilmer Stoneman, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation assistant director of governmental relations.

Corn production accounts for half of the nation’s fertilizer use, and experts estimate that 40 to 60 percent of world food production is attributable to fertilizers.

“Farmers in Virginia and across the country have been practicing good nutrient management for many, many years, including using the ‘Four R’s’ of nutrient management—use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, right time and right place,” Stoneman said. “Through technological advances on farms and nutrient management plans, farmers will continue to be able to reduce their inputs and increase productivity.”

Media: Contact Stoneman at 804-290-1024 or Sara Owens, VFBF communications, at 804-290-1133.

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