Wednesday, July 11, 2012

4R Tomorrow FAQs

Q1: What is 4R Tomorrow?

4R Tomorrow is a program created by the Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (OFSWCD), with the support of the Ohio Soybean Council, to educate and promote wise nutrient management to conserve water quality and soil health using the 4R nutrient stewardship principals and conservation practices.
Whether we are farmers, teachers, parents, children, construction workers, wastewater plant operators, business owners, or government officials—we all play a part in the water quality and natural resource protection, and we all have the ability and the responsibility to conserve and improve Ohio’s natural resources for generations to come.
Through the 4R Tomorrow program, we hope to bring together all stakeholders of natural resource issues—especially water quality— and illustrate how we all can be a part of the solution and contribute to a better tomorrow for Ohio’s citizens and natural resources.

Q2: What are the 4R Principles?

The 4R principles are a comprehensive, innovative and science-based nutrient management approach that enhances environmental protection and improves sustainability. The 4R concept is to implement the four “rights”: 1) right fertilizer source, at the 2) right rate, at the 3) right time, with the 4) right placement.
While the 4R philosophy was originally developed for the agricultural sector, OFSWCD’s 4R Tomorrow program expands these concepts even further—beyond the farm and into every Ohioan’s backyard, workplace, and community. The 4R Tomorrow program is about more than fertilizer or agriculture; it’s about improving the quality of life for all Ohioans, now and in the future. And you can help by applying the principles in your own back yard.

Q3. Why is the 4R Tomorrow Program important?

In Ohio, the water quality and phosphorus issue is at the front of everyone’s mind. Water quality affects the quality of life of Ohio citizens, ecosystems and wildlife. One big example of the water quality issues we are dealing with right now are the algae blooms in lakes across the state, which are caused by excess nutrients that have gotten into the water supply.
As part of the 4R Tomorrow Program, Ohio’s farmers are stepping up and working with county soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to reduce nutrient runoff from their fields. Yet, agriculture is not the only source for phosphorus in the affected lakes and ponds. Homeowners and businesses that use and apply fertilizer, chemicals, and other nutrients to their lawns or landscaping are contributors as well — along with other natural causes. If we truly want to protect and improve water quality in the state of Ohio, it’s going to take everyone working together and doing their part—no matter how small it might seem.
Q4. How can I protect the water quality of Ohio’s lakes, rivers, and streams?

You can play a role in protecting water quality and Ohio’s natural resources through what we call backyard conservation and 4R nutrient stewardship. Conservation goes hand-in-hand with good lawn care practices that protect and improve water quality. By using proper fertilizing and mowing practices, we all can enjoy healthy lawns and conserve our natural resources for future generations.
Examples of these practices include:

1) Always choose a fertilizer that is phosphorus-free, unless a soil test shows a need for this nutrient.
2) Feed your lawn in the spring and fall when the grass is actively growing.
3) Set your mower at the highest setting. Taller grass is stronger grass. It builds deeper roots that enables

the plant to find water and nutrients and better withstand periods of heat and drought.
4)  Use a mulching mower, so that grass clippings and leaves can be returned to the soil where they will break down and add natural nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
5)  Sweep leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizer that land on driveways and sidewalks back onto the grass to help keep nutrients out of waterways.

For more information on backyard conservation and how you can protect Ohio’s natural resources by implementing conservation practices in your own backyard, go to or contact our office.
Q5. Does the grass and landscaping in my backyard and community really have that big of impact on Ohio’s natural resources?

In a word, yes! The millions of grass plants in your lawn help clean the air, trap dirt, and remove carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The grass roots and soil microbes act as a natural water filter to capture and break down pollutants. Not to mention that in urban areas, grass and plant life helps absorb heat and lower the air temperature that is intensified by hard metal, concrete and glass surfaces.
Grass, trees, and plants in your lawn and community landscaping also keeps the soil in place, preventing erosion and absorbing water. Healthy grass can absorb most of the runoff from roofs, patios, driveways, sidewalks, and streets that would otherwise go directly into storm sewers, lakes, and streams. “There are millions of yards across the state of Ohio. Each one makes a difference.”

Q6. What is the “4R Tomorrow Team”?

The 4R Tomorrow Team is an opportunity for you to be a proactive part of the solution. As a member of the 4R Tomorrow Team, you will pledge (“I Resolve”) to reduce the amount of phosphorus you apply to your yard, as well as implement 4R nutrient management and backyard conservation practices to 1) prevent nutrients from washing into Ohio’s waterways, 2) manage your water resources, and 3) improve the overall health of your lawn. As an official 4R Tomorrow Team member, you will receive a 4R Tomorrow Team membership card, tips and educational information about 4R nutrient management and backyard conservation, and updates on the Team’s progress. A 4R Tomorrow Membership sign may be added too!

Q7. How will I benefit from participating in the pledge -- “I Resolve” Campaign?

By participating in the “I Resolve” campaign and reducing the amount of fertilizer and nutrients that can end up in Ohio’s lakes, streams and rivers, you will not only end up with a healthier lawn, but you will also be contributing to a better quality of life for all Ohioans for generations to come.

Q8. How can I participate?

Contact your local SWCD or go to to sign up for the program. Then make your pledge to reduce your phosphorus. Why not start today! The local SWCD delivers program assistance in an effort to develop locally driven solutions to natural resource concerns, especially in areas of soil erosion prevention and water management.

Q9. Who can I contact for more information on how to implement the 4R nutrient management principles in my backyard or business?

Our local SWCD has a wealth of information and resources to share with you. In addition, you can find more about the 4R Tomorrow Program, the 4R nutrient management principles, backyard conservation practices, and additional resources at

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