15 Feb 2008

A Global Framework for Best Management Practices for Fertilizer Use

A Global Framework for Best Management Practices for Fertilizer Use

This paper describes a framework designed to facilitate development and adoption of best management practices (BMPs) for fertilizer use, and to advance the understanding of how these practices contribute to the goals of sustainable development. The framework guides the application of scientific principles to determine which BMPs can be adapted to local conditions at the practical level.

At the practical level, cropping systems are managed for multiple objectives. Best management practices are those that most closely attain those objectives. Management of fertilizer use falls within a larger agronomic context of cropping system management. A framework is helpful for describing how BMPs for fertilizer use fit in with those for the agronomic system.

The goals of sustainable development, in the general sense, comprise equal emphasis on economic, social and ecological aspects (Brundtland, 1987). Such development is essential to provide for the needs of current and future generations. On the practical level, however, it is difficult to relate specific crop management practices to these three general aspects. Four practical management objectives are applicable to the practical farm level of all cropping systems. These four objectives are productivity, profitability, cropping system sustainability and a favorable biophysical and social environment (PPSE). They relate to each other as illustrated in the figure above.

Fertilizer use BMPs comprise an interlinked subset of crop management BMPs. For a fertilizer use practice to be considered “best”, it must harmonize with the other agronomic practices in providing an optimum combination of the four objectives, PPSE. It follows that the development, evaluation, and refinement of BMPs at the farm level must consider all four objectives, as must selection of indicators reflecting their combined impact at the regional, national or global level. Appropriate indicators for use at different scales is further discussed below in the section on performance indicators.

IPNI Concept Paper 1 Global BMP Framework.pdf