4R Education 

Illinois Crop Advisers Seek 4R Certification

Ag Retailers Also Take 4R Code of Practice Pledge

PEORIA, Ill. – Certified Crop Advisers and ag retailers from throughout the state will convene in Peoria, Illinois on January 19, 2016 to participate in special training for the 4R Certification exam.  The 4R program is a national nutrient stewardship program and stands for Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time and Right Place.  By achieving certification in the 4Rs, crop advisers are taking a significant step to demonstrate their competence in specialized fertility management and share this knowledge with thousands of farmers in Illinois who seek advice and recommendations from their fertilizer suppliers and advisers. 

In 2015, the Illinois EPA released the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, which calls for a 15% reduction in nitrogen loss and a 25% reduction in phosphorus losses to Illinois lakes, rivers and streams by the year 2025.  The goal of the strategy is to reduce total nutrient losses by 45% from current levels in order to improve water quality in the state and water that eventually leaves Illinois and enters the Gulf of Mexico.  While there are many sources of nutrients in the environment, agriculture is identified as a major contributor. 

Illinois has over 1,200 Certified Crop Advisers; these individuals have already passed two rigorous certification exams in agronomy and the majority of these crop advisers also work for companies that sell fertilizer, crop protection chemicals and seed to farmers in Illinois.  They are required to earn 40 hours of continuing education every two years and uphold a code of ethics. The 4R certification is a specialized designation only available to individuals who have previously earned their CCA certification. The training for the 4R exam will be provided at the annual convention of the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA).  The Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) provided a grant to the IL CCA program and to the IFCA to facilitate this specialized training. 

“The agribusiness industry continues to take the necessary steps to ensure that we provide recommendations to farmers that are based on the most current scientific findings and methods that can improve crop production by keeping nutrients for the crop” said Jean Payne, President of the IFCA. Nearly 100 IFCA members in Illinois have also taken the 4R Pledge to uphold a 4R Code of Practice which outlines specific agronomic principles to reduce nutrient losses. Find out who's taken the Pledge so far. 

A single crop adviser can influence 50-60 farmers who in turn are making decisions on tens of thousands of acres.  “The CCAs who take the 4R exam are demonstrating their continuing professional commitment to providing solutions to one of the most challenging issues facing Illinois agriculture, and in doing so they assure their customers, and the public, that we are dedicated to improving nutrient utilization for everyone’s benefit” said Tom Kelley, Chairman of the Illinois CCA program.  

For more information on the IFCA convention, the 4R certification or 4R Code of Practice, contact IFCA at (309) 827-2774.