The Fertilizer Institute reports that during the last 30 years corn yields doubled while fertilizer use has fallen 4%.
"This [report] shows that farmers' efforts and investment in nutrient application efficiency are not only helping to feed and fuel the world, but also protecting the environment through cleaner water," says South Dakota Corn Growers Association President Gary Duffy. "While most people hear about fertilizers from the radical fear-mongering specialists, its evidence like this that shows who the True Environmentalists really are."
In 1980, America's farmers raised 6.64 billion bushels of corn while using 3.2 pounds of fertilizer per bushel. In 2010, farmers grew 12.45 billion bushels of corn using 1.6 pounds of fertilizer per bushel.
"Through improvements in modern technology and old fashioned ingenuity, our farmers are using fertilizer with the greatest efficiency in history and have again shown why U.S. agriculture will continue to feed the world," says Ford West, president of The Fertilizer Institute, an industry trade group. "
Increasingly, U.S. farmers' fertilizer use has been under intense scrutiny for its potential impact the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The USDA data demonstrates that farmers are caring for the nation's water resources – such as the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico in large part through voluntary efforts, West says.
"Efficient food production and protection of the environment are not mutually exclusive goals. Farmers across the country including in the watersheds that drain to the Chesapeake Bay and the Mississippi River can be proud that their adoption of site specific nutrient management and their use of higher yielding varieties of corn are making a substantial and even massive contributions to the effort to reduce nutrient losses to waters across the nation. While our critics' voices are often louder than our advocates – the numbers don't lie - this new data shows yet one more reason that agriculture is a leader in environmental stewardship. We think this is a triumph of the role science and economics in sustainable farming and expect that through the more widespread adoption of 4R nutrient stewardship, (use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, right time and right place) farmers and the fertilizer industry will continue to help feed a growing world population."
Source: SD Corn Growers and The Fertilizer Institute