4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer
Cargill’s Walter Ens (right) accepts CAAR’s 2019 4R Nutrient Stewardship Agri-Retailer award, sponsored by Fertilizer Canada, from Catherine King of Fertilizer Canada.

Walter Ens, National Agronomy Lead for Canada with Cargill Ltd., says that since the company has embraced 4R Nutrient Stewardship (4R) at the retail level, he has seen a heightened level of excitement among their customers and their agronomy team across Western Canada.

“The team is eager. Creating 4R plans allow them to really focus on the customer and provide the customer with sound, fertilizer recommendations. That absolutely excites them,” says Ens. “I would say the customers are also eager and also excited to see what our recommendations are at the end of the day.”

The excitement first started back in September 2018 when Ens says Cargill made its first foray into 4R. Ens says the company reached out to Fertilizer Canada to learn more about 4R and took note of the way 4R is being implemented in different regions through national 4R Designation and provincial 4R Certification programs.

Once they finished gathering and assessing information, Ens says Cargill went all-in on embracing the protocols of 4R, spending significant time and investment on various training activities for their staff. Cargill has since officially become a 4R-Designated retailer with 80 per cent of their retail sites, about 30 locations, employing at least one 4R-Designated agronomist.

“Cargill has trained and designated staff to collect, verify and report 4R acres,” says McKenzie Smith, director, nutrient stewardship with Fertilizer Canada. “Cargill has also participated, and continues to participate, in Fertilizer Canada’s nutrients committee and 4R communications working group.”

One market-development agronomist with Cargill who has wholeheartedly embraced 4R is Kelsey Klyzub, who works with the agronomy teams at the company’s Central Alberta retail locations.

Klyzub says she believes Canadian farmers have some of the best fertilizer-use efficiency in the world, and becoming 4R-Designated has created new opportunities for her team to measure and to talk about the good work that Canadian farmers are doing, and also celebrate the products and services Cargill offers to their customers that contribute to their achievements.

“I think Canadian farmers are doing a great job, and I don’t think people are talking about it enough,” says Klyzub. “It’s also really empowering for our sales team to be able to talk about some of the products we offer that fit the 4R mold.

“We’re empowering our sales reps to have these conversations and we can get really granular – excuse the fertilizer pun – with our staff, in terms of training and with our customers,” she says.

Klyzub says that not only are her customers excited to see recognition for their efforts to use nutrients as efficiently as possible, Klyzub says many times 4R fertilizer plans have had a very practical benefit of lowering costs for their growers.

“Fertilizer is one of the biggest expenses on the farm, so I think sustainability and economics really play hand-in-hand together,” says Klyzub. “Farmers are excited when we can say, ‘well, you need less nitrogen, but we need to bump up your potassium,’ things like that. It’s empowering for them to know they are spending their dollars in the right place.”

Ens and Klyzub agree that having their acres counted under 4R gives Canadian farmers a positive story to tell as consumers become more and more interested in where their food comes from. As Klyzub says, it gives farmers the power to say, “I am doing the right thing.”

“Farmers value their land, and they want to do the right thing to make sure land remains healthy and productive,” Ens says. “They want future generations to have the opportunity to continue farming. Canadian farmers are already following a number of sustainable practices, at Cargill, we want to be a part of the journey.”

When he took the stage at the CAAR’s Choice Awards Banquet, Ens kept his acceptance speech short and sweet, turning the spotlight onto his industry peers and Cargill’s customers.

“It is very humbling to be up here,” he said. “There are a lot of fantastic retailers out there in this space, and I am honoured to be a part of this. We’re very excited at Cargill to be working with 4R and to be working with
different customers on this. I thank you for this award.” 

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