Phone: 202.296.0490 Email: nutrientstewardship@tfi.org

What are the 4Rs?

4R Nutrient Stewardship provides a framework to achieve cropping system goals, such as increased production, increased farmer profitability, enhanced environmental protection and improved sustainability.

To achieve those goals, the 4R concept incorporates the:

  • Right fertilizer source at the
  • Right rate, at the
  • Right time and in the
  • Right place

Properly managed fertilizers support cropping systems that provide economic, social and environmental benefits. On the other hand, poorly managed nutrient applications can decrease profitability and increase nutrient losses, potentially degrading water and air.

4R nutrient stewardship requires the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that optimize the efficiency of fertilizer use. The goal of fertilizer BMPs is to match nutrient supply with crop requirements and to minimize nutrient losses from fields. Selection of BMPs varies by location, and those chosen for a given farm are dependent on local soil and climatic conditions, crop, management conditions and other site specific factors.

Other agronomic and conservation practices, such as no-till farming and the use of cover crops, play a valuable role in supporting 4R nutrient stewardship. As a result, fertilizer BMPs are most effective when applied with other agronomic and conservation practices.

4R Nutrient Stewardship

in collaboration with:

The Fertilizer Institute

Fertilizer Canada

International Plant Nutrition Institute

International Fertilizer Association


Videos of the 4R's:


Mark Fritz

Right Source

  • Matches fertilizer type to crop needs.

Right Time

  • Makes nutrients available when crops needs them

Right Place

  • Keep nutrients where crops can use them.

Right Rate

  • Matches amount of fertilizer type crop needs.

Below is an Article from the NRCS Website

Nutrient management is the matching of the site specific soil, production history and crop management to the “Right Rate”, “Right Source”, “Right Time” and “Right Place” (commonly known as the 4R nutrient stewardship) of nutrient applications. The NRCS nutrient management plans are designed to document practices that address natural resource concerns related to soil erosion, water quality and nutrient applications. For more information about NRCS nutrient management activities use the following link: NRCS Nutrient Management.

For more information, please contact your local USDA Service Center.

Ohio Agronomist:

Eric Schwab

(614) 255-2477