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April 19, 2017

Florida Tomato Grower Recognized for Sustainable Tomato Farming

One Florida tomato grower was awarded the coveted 4R Advocate Award for sustainable tomato farming.

We’re proud to toot the Florida ag industry’s horn with the announcement that tomato grower Gary Reeder, and his colleagues at the tomato operation West Coast Tomato, were awarded the 4R Advocate Award by The Fertilizer Institute. As only the second Florida recipient of the award in its history, Reeder was recognized for his sustainable tomato farming practices concerning fertilizer use. Find out what the 4R Advocate Award is all about, and what about Reeder’s sustainable tomato production earned him the prestigious award.

The 4Rs and the Advocate Award

The Fertilizer Institute gives the award each year to five growers in the country who use “4R principles to increase yields, improve soils, and decrease fertilizer’s environmental footprint.” The 4Rs are central to The Fertilizer Institute’s mission. They stand for:

  1. The Right Source: Matches the fertilizer with the plants’ needs.
  2. The Right Rate: Delivers the exact amount of fertilizer the plants need, and no more.
  3. The Right Time: Makes fertilizers available when the plants need them.
  4. The Right Place: Places the fertilizer where the plants can use them.

Using the 4Rs means that fertilizers are used correctly and precisely, fertilizing minerals are kept out of the water, the plants get what they need, and the producer saves money. The Nature Conservancy’s David Royal said, “By using the 4R’s, Gary is putting out the right source and at the right rate. This is derived from soil samples taken, and getting the pH where it needs to be. This is their expertise.”

Reeder’s Sustainable Tomato Farming

In the tomato cultivation industry, Reeder’s reputation is that he was using sustainable agriculture practices even before the 4Rs were so labelled. Constant soil testing and targeted fertilizer applications to ensure the fertilizer is where it needs to be are examples of practices that earned Reeder the award. Intense water management and a finely-tuned irrigation system are additional factors that earned West Coast Tomato the honor. “Florida farmers are great stewards of the land,” David Royal said, “because they know the land is what takes care of them. Water quality is a huge topic in Florida, and the 4R’s help improve the water leaving the property.”

“We’re very efficient with our water irrigation techniques and our irrigation management program,” Reeder said. “It’s a lot of work.” However, it’s work that’s worth it, and Reeder wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’re very proud and very honored that we are getting some recognition for what we feel is doing things properly,” Reeder shared.

As the nation’s leading land lenders based in Lakeland, Florida, we’re proud of anything that spotlights the sustainable agriculture practices undertaken by The Sunshine State’s men and women in agriculture. It’s our mission to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers grow and succeed using our low interest rates, long amortizations, and an outstanding 10-year line of credit.


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