publications

Research with Impact

The Research with Impact series highlights case study examples of solution-driven research supported by IPNI.

 

Diagnosing and Mapping the Need for Soil Improvement in Brazil

Brazil has lacked the data for creating a soil fertility survey that could be used for assessing if any nutritional factors are limiting crop yields in the region. The IPNI Brazil Program partnered with the Agronomic Institute of Campinas and São Paulo State University to collect and produce a soil fertility survey, starting with the state of São Paulo. The survey revealed that soil samples analyzed in São Paulo are classified between “very low” and “medium” for phosphorus.

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Improving the Value of Loblolly Pine Forests through Fertilization

Loblolly pine is the most commercially important of the pine trees grown in the southern U.S. Unmanaged forests can take up to 50 years to mature, while managed stands can mature in as little as 20 years. Loblolly pine is very responsive to cultural treatments such as fertilization, thinning, and eliminating woody vegetation, yet little is known about how much extra wood and economic value can be gained from fertilization late in a rotation after thinning.

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Improved Plant Nutrition Helps Moroccan Farmers Control Wheat Crown Rot

Wheat crown rot is a fungal disease that results in significant economic loss in Morocco and in wheat-growing areas around the world. The disease is caused by the soil-borne fungus Fusarium culmorum. Ultimately the fungus causes the heads of wheat plants to turn white and die prematurely. This disease is commonly known as “whitehead”, and is easily identified in the field. These whiteheads contain either no grain or only shriveled kernels. In the dryland wheat production areas of Morocco, crown rot reduces yields for many farmers. Earlier research has linked the severity of crown rot with drought conditions and unbalanced plant nutrition. Efforts to control crown rot have been limited by a poor understanding of the interacting factors associated with crop management and disease development, especially the benefits of balanced nutrition.

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Improving Forage Production in Russia with Proper Fertilization

Annual and perennial grasses and legumes are important forage crops in Russia, occupying almost 20% of the total cultivated land. Insufficient fertilization and poor-quality seed has led to low productivity of forage grasses and poor silage quality. Russia currently imports a significant amount of milk products and the desire to build the domestic dairy industry has prompted the need to boost the production of high quality forage.

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Nutrient Expert® Software Boosts Farm Profitability in Eastern Nepal

Balanced and adequate application of plant nutrients is essential to improve cereal productivity in the Terai region of Nepal. IPNI developed the Nutrient Expert® fertilizer decision support tool to quickly estimate specific fertilizer requirements for cereals at the individual farm scale. The adoption of this tool will enhance food security within Nepal and secure the livelihoods of its farmers.

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Potassium Fertilizer Research is Reviving Potato Production in China

China is the largest global potato producer and Inner Mongolia (IMAR) is one of the country’s major potato-growing regions. Without proper K fertilization, a reduction in potato yield, quality, and farmer profitability has been observed. The IPNI China Program established a research project that helped the region’s potato farmers increase their productivity and profitability by identifying the most beneficial rates, sources, and times of K application.

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Improved 4R Nitrogen Management Leads to Reduced Nitrous Oxide Emissions

Nitrogen fertilizer has been identified as a significant source of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas with a heat-trapping potential almost 300 times greater than carbon dioxide. A number of food sustainability groups, environmental advocates, and scientific organizations are working to develop a path for reducing nitrous oxide emissions.

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Access to Critical Soil Test Values Makes Better Fertilizer Decisions

An important first step in determining fertilizer strategies is soil testing. The critical value for a soil test indicates the likelihood of a crop response to an added nutrient but often these values are not substantiated or accessible. The grains industry in Australia recognized that making the data behind soil test critical values visible and available to cross examination would assist growers and their advisers make better fertilizer decisions.

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Improving Yields and Profit with Controlled-Release Urea on Rice and Eggplant in Hubei

China is the world’s leader in both rice and eggplant production. Farmers in the Hubei province prefer to use commercial, soluble fertilizers such as urea and compound fertilizers; however, nitrogen (N) is frequently over used and phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are commonly under applied. To address the problem of fertilizer overuse and nutrient imbalance, the IPNI China Program, with the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, carried out a project to demonstrate the effects of polymer-coated controlled-release urea (CRU) on rice and eggplant production and profitability.

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Documenting the Need for Potassium in Uruguay

Agriculture in Uruguay initially developed in high potassium (K) soils, under conventional tillage and crop rotations that required no K fertilizer. The scenario changed during the last decades driven by increasing grain prices. The annual cropped area tripled between 2002 and 2014, with soybean now sown on 67% of the area. Cropping systems have intensified, shifting from crop-pasture rotations to continuous annual cropping under no-till cultivation.

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Nutrient Expert®: Making Better Fertilizer Use Decisions

The preferred method for making fertilizer recommendations is to analyze soils to determine if an adequate nutrient supply exists to support healthy crop growth. However, most farmers in India lack knowledge about managing nutrients within their highly nutrient demanding cereal systems. The IPNI South Asia Program developed and adapted Nutrient Expert® (NE), a decision support software system that provides fertilizer recommendations, for individual maize farmers. Across all of the maize-growing sites, the performance of NE was consistently superior to the other alternatives.

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Long-term Research Documents Importance of Balanced Plant Nutrition

Farmers increasingly need science-based information on the role of balanced plant nutrition to optimize profitability and minimize environmental impact. IPNI recognizes that long-term crop nutrition research is essential for understanding the 4R pillars— economic, environmental, and social sustainability of crop production and has supported an on-going study in western Kansas, USA that began in 1961.

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Balanced Fertilization of Grain Crops in Egypt Can Double Yields

In Egypt, the application of mineral fertilizers is highly skewed towards nitrogen, which has led to the gradual depletion of other nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, and several micronutrients following many years of repeated crop harvest. Unbalanced fertilization in the country allows for a great opportunity to improve crop productivity through improved fertilizer management.

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Enhancing Indian Farmer Income with Balanced Nutrition of a Rice-Maize Rotation

It has become increasingly common for farmers to grow rice, followed by maize each year in their fields. This rice-maize cropping system provides an option for farmers to diversify and improve their income compared to growing only rice. High-yielding maize removes more nutrients from the soil than rice or wheat. Current fertilization practices have led to an imbalanced and insufficient reservoir of many nutrients in the soil. Improper fertilization practices are leading to an overall decline in farm productivity. IPNI always recommends that farmers apply fertilizer nutrients according to the demand of the crop and apply nutrients in ways that minimize their loss and maximize their efficiency.

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Improved Fertilization Boosts Olive Production in Morocco

Olives are one of the most important fruit crops in Morocco. The country’s fruit production has nearly doubled in the last ten years. But this higher production is mainly due to increased tree planting as yields remain low. Nutrient deficiencies and imbalanced fertilization remain a primary constraint to higher yields. IPNI cooperated within a study that evaluated current farmer practices for 36 olive orchards. The goal was to test whether improved fertilizer recommendations could boost olive production.

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Overcoming Human Zinc Deficiencies with Proper Fertilization

Zinc (Zn) deficiency in human diets causes people to have many health complications, including impaired brain development, weakened immune systems, and stunted growth. Zinc deficiency is responsible for the deaths of 450,000 children annually. Low Zn intake is clearly a major issue, especially among women, children, and the elderly living in the developing world.

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Fire Does Not Reduce the Nutrient Value of Phosphorus Fertilizers

Fire strikes many fields in the Cerrado region of Brazil every winter due to weather conditions of high temperatures and low humidity. Some fires happen accidentally or farmers intentionally burn cover crops, crop residues, and pastures. Farmers wondered if the fire had an effect on their fertilizer, or if reapplication was needed so a partnership with IPNI and local researchers was established to investigate the effect of high temperatures on two common P fertilizers, single superphosphate (SSP) and triple superphosphate (TSP).

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Improving Yield and Profitability of Processing Tomatoes in Northwest China with Potassium

Tomatoes require a relatively large amount of potassium (K) for adequate growth. Recently, scientists have detected declining K concentrations for soils in the Xinjiang region, and this is thought to be related to the amount of K removed from the field during the continual harvest of processing tomatoes as well as other crops. Falling soil K fertility is leading to a reduction in tomato yield and quality.

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Overcoming Low Maize Yields with Lime and Potassium in Chiapas, Mexico

Soil acidity is a major constraint that limits maize productivity in the southern agricultural region of Chiapas, Mexico. The region’s dominant sandy soils are derived from granite in a lowland tropical environment. These soils are naturally acidic, but conditions are made worse by burning plant residues, use of acidifying fertilizers, and tillage.

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Boosting Soybean Yields and Raising Farmer Income in Kenya with Nutrient Management

Grain legumes are an important source of dietary protein and income for farmers in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Soybean production provides smallholder farmers in Kenya and Uganda with an alternative cash income, improves nutritional security and contributes to the soil N supply through biological N2 fixation. Smallholder farmers currently apply little or no fertilizer on soybean and prefer to use it on other crops instead, which has contributed to poor soybean yields.

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Strengthening Families in Peru by Improving Coffee Yields

Small holder coffee farmers who have migrated to the steep slopes of the northeastern Amazon in Peru commonly faced a repeating poverty cycle. Their perennially low yields and incomes prevent adequate reinvestment in their crops. Over time this situation has lead to extreme poverty and family instability. Soil nutrient depletion is a main factor limiting yields. Very little fertilizer is used, biomass production is low, and the risk of soil erosion is high. Eventually families move on in search of new land to start the cycle again.

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