09 Jul 2008

IPNI Supports New Professorship to Explore Link between Fertilizer and Food Nutrition

IPNI Supports New Professorship to Explore Link between Fertilizer and Food Nutrition
The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) has committed funding in support of the new “Nutrients for Life Foundation Professor of Soil and Food Crop Nutrition” position at Oklahoma State University (OSU). The professorship endowment is being supported in cooperation with The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) and the Nutrients for Life Foundation. A gift totaling $250,000 from the three organizations to the university was announced in early July 2008.

Through a rare matching program made available from oil and gas executive and OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens and the state of Oklahoma, the fertilizer industry’s $250,000 will translate to $1 million to fund a professorship in perpetuity. This position brings the strengths of three organizations together to address fertilizer’s affect on food nutritional quality.

“The quality of the food we eat is directly related to the fertility of the soil where the crop was grown. The nutrients in food crops originate from the soil, but soils do not have an unlimited supply of nutrients and may not supply plant nutrients in proper balance … hence the need for fertilizer nutrients,” said IPNI President Dr. Terry L. Roberts. “It would be difficult, if not impossible, to manage food crop nutrition without understanding how to manage the fertility of agricultural soils.”

The gift will create the “Nutrients for Life Foundation Professor of Soil and Food Nutrition”, located within the College of Agricultural of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. The cross-disciplinary position will work closely with the college’s plant and soil sciences department and the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center. The university expects to fill the position in 2009. OSU President Burns Hargis expressed appreciation to the fertilizer industry for this support of academics and research.

“It is our hope that this professorship will encourage the expansion of an untapped and important area in academic research,” said Nutrients for Life Foundation Executive Director Harriet Wegmeyer. “If, as predicted, a correlation between fertilizer and healthier foods is established, imagine the impact. An increasingly health-conscious public will finally regard fertilizers for what they truly are … nutritious  for both plants and, in turn, people. We are pleased to be working with OSU on this exciting initiative.”

“Presently, the global food crisis is top of people’s minds and appropriate application of fertilizer is key to the solution. Not only is fertilizer responsible for 40 to 60% of food production, but we hope to show through research at OSU its importance on food nutrition as well,” said TFI President Ford B. West.

Endowed professorships and chairs are academic designations which provide support for faculty salary, graduate assistantships, equipment, and research needs, as well as other support.