How is Nutrien improving their local watersheds?


2020: Reducing Water Risk at Carseland Facility in Alberta, Canada

To look at reducing water related risk to water stress at Nutrien’s Carseland nitrogen facility, in 2020 Nutrien partnered with Saltworks and completed an onsite pilot to treating live cooling tower water. By treating the cooling tower water it can be reused in the plant operations and help to reduce Bow River water withdrawal by more than 500,000 m3/year. Expanding on this work was part of a water stewardship pilot project in 2021.


2012 – Current: Collaborative Watershed Health in Idaho, USA

The project began in 2012, when the Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout was in decline on the Upper Blackfoot River in southeast Idaho. The Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are a threatened species according to various state and federal wildlife agencies.  Damage caused by historic grazing and agriculture use (e.g., fish were getting caught in shallow ditches created by old irrigation systems used by area ranchers), combined with an influx of pelicans in the area, which are one of the trout’s main predators, and recreational fishing had caused numbers of the trout in the Upper Blackfoot River to have diminished to around only 20 fish.

The partnership formed in 2012 based on a shared commitment to restoring what historically had been a premier habitat for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. That’s when the unlikely group got together to try and figure out how to solve the problem. Three phosphate mining companies — Nutrien, Bayer, and Simplot — came together to help fund the Upper Blackfoot Confluence (UBC), an umbrella group that includes two conservation organizations – Trout Unlimited and the Idaho Conservation League.  The mining companies contribute funds each year for conservation projects, for which UBS then seeks matching grant funds. UBC has also partnered with landowners (e.g., Bear Lake Grazing Company, Caribou Cattle Company), and government agencies like the US Forest Service, National Resources Conservation Service, and Idaho Fish and Game.


2012 – Current: 4R Nutrient Stewardship to Support Water Quality at the Watershed Level

Nutrien has been a strong advocate of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship System (4Rs). We are a leader in promoting the adoption of these practices through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification for Retail facilities, the 4R Designation for crop advisors in North America, and the 4R Solution Project in Africa. The 4R 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. Nutrien Ag Solutions Leipsic and Ottawa facilities have achieved certified status for year two through the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program. The 4R program certifies nutrient service providers in the Western Lake Erie Basin and across the state of Ohio that apply or make recommendations are doing so in accordance with 4R Nutrient Stewardship principles – which refers to using the Right Source of Nutrients at the Right Rate and Right Time in the Right Place. Program participants must go through an annual, independent, third-party audit and demonstrate they not only understand 4R principles, but also follow them. 4R Nutrient Stewardship promotes using the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, can help increase yields and profitability while reducing the loss of all nutrients and improve nutrient efficiency and water quality.


1975 – Current: White Springs Phosphate Mine Reclamation

As part of the reclamation process at Nutrien’s White Springs Phosphate Mine, there are 7,000-8,000 acres of open water which have been created since operations began. The lakes and ponds are stocked, but in many cases the ponds restock themselves by birds that inadvertently move fish, fish eggs, and other aquatic life from one pond to the next. Alligators also find the ponds and lakes too. The team at White Springs have incorporated wildlife needs into reclamation efforts, making the site home to birds, snakes, tortoises and other threatened and endangered species. There were two areas that are prepped (certain vegetation plantings) for gopher tortoises, which have been successful. White Springs is working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to authorize another site to receive more tortoises and expand the tortoise areas.  Mine reclamation at White Springs creates diverse habitat for threatened and endangered species. With 8-10 years until the mine is completed, the site is emphasizing planning for post-mining land use and collaborating with many groups to make that post-mining landscape the most productive it can be.


2015: Supporting Business and Community Growth

The City of Borger is located in the Texas Panhandle; an area of the Southern United States that can be quite dry. In 2015, our Borger Nitrogen Facility entered into an agreement with the City of Borger to pay for a certain volume of water regardless of if that water is used or not. This was done so the city could increase their water capacity through developing GW wells, and the site could have enough water for its planned ammonia and urea expansions. This helped support the city in their water security, while allowing for the expansion of our Nitrogen operations.


2012 – Current: Nutrien’s Legacy Wetland Program

In 2020, Nutrien’s continued partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada secured another 640 acres of habitat of which 155 acres was either restored or retained wetlands. This work is creating and conserving an estimated 160,000 m3 of runoff storage and will filter up to 600 kg/year of phosphorus and 6,300 kg/year of nitrogen from the Saskatchewan and Assiniboine River Watersheds in Saskatchewan through wetland retention and restoration. This same wetland conservation work has secured 18,000 tonnes of CO2.

Through the partnership, over the last 10 years, we have been able to create an estimated 570,000 m3 of runoff storage, while filtering up to 2,200 kg/year of phosphorous and 22,000 kg/year of nitrogen through restoring and retaining 550 acres of wetlands on 2,800 acres of total habitat. Additionally, this work has secured roughly 60,000 tonnes of CO2. (Updated numbers available in 2022 report)


2005 – Current: Nutrien Transforms Local Industrial Site into Reclamation Forest

Nutrien’s Fort Saskatchewan facility uses an inventive reclamation method, utilizing phosphogypsum, a byproduct of the phosphate fertilizer industry, to cultivate thriving forests.

This innovative approach involved planting 44,000 trees across 20 hectares of phosphogypsum-reconstituted soil. In a recent collaboration with Project Forest and Trees for Life on June 5, 2023, the facility embarked on planting an additional 26,000 hybrid poplar trees across 17 hectares.

Unlike traditional methods of reclaiming phosphogypsum stacks with soil and grass, this facility adopts afforestation techniques for enhanced reclamation. This practice not only enhances the visual appeal but also yields substantial environmental benefits such as creating wildlife habitats, a stronger local ecosystem, and carbon sequestration. Nutrien’s partnership with the University of Alberta since 2005, combined with expertise from the Canadian Forest Service, has been instrumental in formulating this effective afforestation protocol. The project harnesses the potential of forests to deliver many environmental advantages for years to come!