Florida tomato grower Gary Reeder was one of five farmers in the country given the 4R Advocate Award for 2017.


Tomato grower and fourth-generation farmer, Gary Reeder, earned the coveted 4R Advocate Award along with four other farmers for 2017.  Only the second Florida grower to win the 4R Advocate Award since The Fertilizer Institute began awarding the prize, Reeder is well-known in the Florida ag industry for choosing sustainable practices; it’s said he has been using principles that align with the 4R Advocate Award since before the 4Rs were named. Explore this Florida farmer and his operation that are a testament to Florida agriculture’s commitment to conservation.

The 4Rs Defined


The 4Rs refer to four different best practices for the use of fertilizer. The aim is to reduce fertilizer runoff in both soil and water, to give crops the nutrients they need and to save growers’ money. The individual practices are:

  1. The Right Source: This involves choosing the fertilizer that matches the crops’ needs.
  1. The Right Rate: The fertilizer is delivered at the necessary amount needed by the plants, and no more.
  1. The Right Time: The fertilizer is made available to the plants when needed.
  1. The Right Place: The fertilizer is placed exactly where the plants will have access to use it.


Gary Reeder and the 4R Advocate Award


According to an article on The Nature Conservancy website, Reeder has “been implementing practices aimed at efficiently using nutrients and water even before the 4R program had its name.” The award is given to those who, in the words of The Fertilizer Institute, use “4R principles to increase yields, improve soils, and decrease fertilizer’s environmental footprint.”

David Royal, with The Nature Conservancy in Florida, was quoted as saying, “We congratulate Gary Reeder and West Coast Tomato for their dedication to implementing best practices for water, soil, fertilization and nutrient management. They are true innovators and leaders in the ag industry. We’re excited to see their stewardship officially recognized with the 4R Advocacy Award.”

Reeder’s farm, West Coast Tomato, utilizes an array of practices to maintain the levels on conservancy that won them the 4R Advocate Award. They include:

  • A highly efficient irrigation system.
  • Intense water management.
  • Constant soil testing.
  • Targeted fertilizer applications

Reeder is a testament to the hard working men and women in Florida agriculture who are true stewards of the land.