WASHINGTON — The 4R Research Fund announced it has awarded $273,500 in grants for five research proposals, including one at Southern Illinois University, aimed at identifying the current state of knowledge and existing research gaps regarding fertilizer best management practices.

The fund, supported by the fertilizer industry and other stakeholders, is a science-based research initiative aimed at improving agricultural sustainability by expanding knowledge of 4R Nutrient Stewardship use of the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place.

With guidance from an industry and academic technical advisory group, the fund’s management committee selected the following five proposals:

* A meta-analysis of enhanced efficiency fertilizers in corn systems in the Midwest was awarded to researchers at Southern Illinois University;

* An analysis of 4R Nutrient Stewardship implementation on drained land was awarded to a project partnership between the Conservation Fund and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service;

* A meta-analysis of nitrogen losses and 4R Nutrient Stewardship in U.S. corn-based systems was awarded to researchers at Duke University;

* A meta-analysis of phosphorus fertilizer placement and tillage interactions for corn and soybeans in the U.S. was awarded to researchers at Kansas State University; and

* An assessment of the effects of conservation practices and fertilizer application methods on nitrogen and phosphorus loss from farm fields was awarded to a project partnership between the University of Toledo and USDA ARS.

These projects are scheduled to be finished within a nine- to 12-month time frame. When complete, details from the analyses will be made available for review by all interested stakeholders.

Understanding research gaps is an initial priority of the 4R Research Fund.

To ensure future funding is directed at addressing unmet research needs, the first request for proposals solicited literature reviews of topics related to 4R Nutrient Stewardship on a national, regional or cropping system basis using meta-analyses.

A meta-analysis is a method of analyzing the results of a systematic literature review that allows quantitative estimation of effect size and uncertainty.

“Recognizing knowledge gaps helps to avoid needless and costly duplication of previous research and helps to inform industry, academia, and agencies of areas that need to be addressed with future research,” said International Plant Nutrition Institute President Terry Roberts.

Created in 2013, by the Fertilizer Institute, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute and the International Plant Nutrition Institute, the fund is providing resources for a multiyear research effort aimed at measuring and evaluating the economic, social and environmental impacts of 4R Nutrient Stewardship.