StewardshipFirst – Tracking Impact: Keep It for the Crop by 2025 Continues to Expand in Year Three

Bloomington, IL – Agricultural organizations in Illinois are leading the way in tackling water quality problems in the state. Through the Illinois Council on Best Management Practices (CBMP), member organizations are expanding Keep It for the Crop by 2025 (KIC), a nutrient stewardship program focused on the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorous in the state’s watersheds. Launched in 2011, KIC shows how collaboration and dedication to principles can help farmers cut nitrate levels and improve water quality while maintaining or increasing yields.

“In 2012, we had six nitrogen rate trials with participating farmers; in 2015, we have forty trials planned,” reports Dan Schaefer, CBMP director of nutrient stewardship. “The level of acceptance of KIC with farmers and ag retailers has been unbelievable; they are terrific partners.”

The KIC program trials track nitrogen presence and movement in the soil after harvest and throughout the next growing season. The program focuses on the 4 R’s of nutrient stewardship developed by the International Plant Nutrition Institute: Right source, Right rate, Right time and Right place. Schaefer is quick to note that the support retailers have for a nitrogen management systems approach has been critical to the success of the program and, more importantly, improving nutrient utilization, enhancing yield, protecting water quality and improving profitability for the farmer.

“Soil health is critical to agriculture. It is terrific to see the expansion of the KIC program, especially in 2015, the International Year of Soils,” commented Jay Vroom, president and CEO of CropLife America. “KIC’s goals are similar to the goals of the CropLife StewardshipFirst program – working to use current data to develop best practices in agricultural chemical use. Healthy soils are a product of best management practices that are comprehensive, consistent and practical. Stewardship should always come first!”

Starting in 2015, Schaefer will manage the Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association’s (IFCA) Keep it 4R Crop program which engages agricultural retailers and certified crop advisers on 4R programs and the IFCA’s new 4R Code of Practice. “Working alongside CBMP and assisting [Nutrient Research & Education Council] researchers,” Schaefer adds, “we will continue to move the needle on reducing nutrient losses with scientifically sound practices that benefit agriculture and our fellow citizens.”

IFCA, a member of CBMP, represents the crop production supply and service industry while promoting the sound stewardship and utilization of agricultural inputs. IFCA has long been a valued partner of CLA and a leader in agronomic stewardship. For more information on KIC, visit the CBMP website or download the KIC progress report for November 2014.

The CropLife StewardshipFirst program is a commitment by the crop protection industry to provide safe, healthy and plentiful crops that feed and clothe a growing population. StewardshipFirst was created to promote and advance sustainable agriculture and the environmentally sound use of crop protection products. It is hoped that, through science-based discovery, StewardshipFirst will help global agriculture economically produce safe, high quality, abundant food, fiber, and other crops, thus ensuring food security and alleviating poverty, suffering and hardship. Learn more at

Michael Leary