2010 Program Report "Growing the Right Way"
IPNI was founded with the goal of defining the appropriate basis for the use and management of plant nutrients. While environmental issues dominated much of our attention when IPNI was first established, the world’s food crisis quickly reminded us of the crucial role of fertilizer in producing food. The world’s focus on food security relegated environmental concerns about nutrient use to the back burner. While global attention shifts from one issue to another, the issues do not disappear. We still have a food crisis and we are still concerned about the environment; these two issues are intertwined. IPNI has maintained from the very beginning that fertilizer best management practices (BMPs) combined with sound agronomy are necessary to produce more food and that implementation of fertilizer BMPs will be protective of our natural resources. When it comes to plant nutrition, there is a right way to grow food production and a right way to protect the environment.
The right way to increase food production and protect the environment is encompassed in 4R nutrient stewardship — using the right source of plant nutrient, applied at the right rate, in the right place, and at the right time. IPNI scientists have been developing, refining, and advocating this scientific approach to nutrient management since we opened our doors.
We are happy to report 4R nutrient stewardship is gaining momentum. The system is being discussed and evaluated around the world. In addition to industry acceptance, it has been accepted and endorsed by agronomists, crop advisers, NGOs, and some governmental organizations in North America. During 2009, the American Society of Agronomy published a series of articles in their Crops & Soils magazine on the concepts supporting 4R nutrient stewardship under the theme “Know Your Fertilizer Rights”. These five articles were co-authored by our scientific staff and other industry, university, and government scientists, reflecting the widespread recognition of this approach. To further carry the message to audiences around the world, we have just released two videos — “The Right Way to Grow … 4R Nutrient Stewardship” and “The Right Way to Grow Wheat … 4R Nutrient Stewardship.” These are available for viewing on You Tube and on DVD.
We are working to gain worldwide recognition and acceptance of 4R nutrient stewardship as the right way to manage plant nutrients. The concept is simple. 4Rs helps farmers and the public understand how the right management practices for fertilizer contribute to agricultural sustainability. 4R nutrient stewardship is just one example of growing the right way. IPNI is involved in a host of other activities that are helping the industry grow and protect fertilizer markets through science. Last year we helped support more than 140 research projects around the world. While many of these projects focus on individual nutrients or combinations of N, P, K, S, and micronutrients, our research is increasingly systems oriented, related to fertilizer BMPs, site-specific nutrient management, and precision technologies. We have one long-term project — Global Maize — comparing farmer practices to ecological intensification underway in several countries, including the USA, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, and Southeast Asia. Ecological intensification describes a cropping system that produces high yields while sustaining environmental quality. This project is unique in that it has common treatments in multiple regions of the world. Its purpose is to determine the capacity for production increases in various maize growing areas in the world and to determine what nutrient management practices are needed to close the yield gap between current and potential production.
IPNI continues to grow as an organization. Since our last report, we expanded our communications program with the addition of a scientific specialist, added a scientist to our program in Brazil, opened an office in Australia and New Zealand, and most recently have started a program in Africa. We now have 30 scientists in programs covering 10 regions and some 50 countries. Our staff continues to be recognized for their scientific accomplishment and leadership. IPNI scientists serve on numerous technical committees within the fertilizer industry, and represent industry interests in government and academic circles. They also provide leadership in scientific societies around the world and take the lead in organizing conferences, workshops, and other training events.
Examples of such activities and accomplishments are explained throughout the 2010 IPNI program report. Agronomic education, research, and leadership in all aspects of plant nutrition are the right way to grow … the right way for IPNI to support the industry in their efforts to help feed the world in a sustainable and socially acceptable way.