Nutrient Stewardship Council Announces Updates and Additions to 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program Standard

The Nutrient Stewardship Council is pleased to announce updates to the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program Standard requirements, to incorporate up-to-date research, technology and best management practices; and create greater transparency and efficiency for program participants.

For more than five years, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has been operating in the Western Lake Erie Basin. In January 2017, the program was expanded to the full state of Ohio.  The voluntary certification program is a concentrated effort by the agriculture industry to significantly reduce and prevent applied nutrients from running off fields, which has contributed to water quality issues in Lake Erie and waterways throughout Ohio.

The program supplies educational, nutrient recommendation and application, and 4R monitoring requirements to nutrient service providers, which are phased in during an initial three-year audit cycle. Program participants are audited annually by an independent, third-party auditor.

To improve efficiency and strengthen the program, current 4R Certification Program Standard requirements have been reorganized and consolidated. In addition, new requirements have been integrated, including soil sampling procedures, manure analysis procedures, grower education, staff education and yield data analysis.

Recently, several U.S. states and Canadian provinces have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program, adapting 4R best management practices to fit their given geographies, while including core requirements initially created in the Western Lake Erie Basin program to create consistency and rigor amongst all geographies. The 4R Advisory Committee and Nutrient Stewardship Council were able to gain additional perspective from other geographies to create a more effective and efficient Standard.

The updated Program Standard has been made available to nutrient service providers and is now available on An appendix will be included to guide users on the consolidation of current requirements and implementation of new requirements.