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May 2014


Focus on Fertilizer Australia



agriculture The African Fertilizer Volunteer's Program

IFA Annual Conference in Sydney



Let’s join forces for nutrient stewardship by Jørgen Ole Haslestad


n my capacity as Chairman of the IFA Agriculture Committee, it is my great pleasure to share some of my thoughts regarding the challenges and opportunities associated with nutrient management.

We all know that plant nutrients, especially nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, are essential inputs for producing crops and providing enough food, feed, fibre and bioenergy for a fast-growing and wealthier world population. Maintaining soil fertility requires replacing nutrients removed from the field by the harvested products. Manufactured fertilizers play a key role, as they provide the soil with the nutrients required to grow the plants that are needed to feed the world. We also have to keep in mind that agricultural systems are open systems, so that nutrient losses cannot be entirely avoided. Since the fertilizer industry is the main source of anthropogenic reactive nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, we have an obvious role to play in increasing the effectiveness of their use. We have long pursued the goal of enhancing crop productivity and maintaining soil fertility while reducing nutrient losses to the environment. In this connection, IFA and its members promote nutrient stewardship, i.e. the efficient and effective planning and man-

© iStock

Fertilizers are essential, and so is effective nutrient management

agement of plant nutrients in a manner that improves the social, economic and environmental performance of mineral and organic fertilizers. Such stewardship is implemented in site- and crop-specific ways, based on well-established scientific management principles related to the source, rate, timing and placement of nutrients. cont’d on page 2

IFA's new website provides a fresh, sleek and dynamic platform, where members can find all the information they need in a simpler, more interactive manner. For their benefit we have created the following new functionalities: • Personal member interface; • Online membership directory; • Order online new statistics; • Manage your newsletter subscriptions; • New blog with original editorial content on IFA’s activities...

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2 fertilizers & agriculture

IFA news Excellence in safety, health and environmental (SHE) management in production is not only a must within the global fertilizer industry but it has also become a top priority of the industry’s senior leadership. In this light, excellent SHE performance within the IFA membership should be globally-recognized and duly-rewarded. This is why the Association grants the Green Leaf Award every two years to a deserving member company. Discover who the current world champion is and why this company was unanimously selected by an independent panel of judges. and also IFA is inviting candidate production facilities from its membership to submit an application by 15 August 2014, demonstrating: • I n n o v a tive and/or improved SHE performance and/or sustained excellence in SHE performance over time; • The implementation of management systems to ensure SHE control across the product lifecycle. IFA members can download the Award application at www.protectandsustain. org/participate/text/107-the-green-leafaward-invitation-for-application

© iStock

Who is going to be the next winner of IFA’s prestigious Green Leaf Award ?

cont’d from page 1

Let's join forces for nutrient stewardship

Innovation is the keyword For this to happen, we have to develop innovative solutions. That will obviously require higher investments in R&D. Moreover, if existing technology were adopted more widely by farmers, especially in developing countries, the yield gap could be considerably reduced. I encourage IFA, its members and its partners to embrace innovation as a philosophy, considering farmers in their diversity, from adopters of high-tech options to smallholders who need our help to exit the poverty trap. We need innovative ideas leading to the implementation of new concepts and strategies, in terms of products, nutrient management practices and outreach to farmers. We also require innovative partnerships with all those who share common goals, especially farmers’ organizations, rural advisory services, scientific organizations and other agri-input sectors – but also with less traditional partners such as information technology companies. As you know, IFA has made nutrient stewardship and management a top priority. I am delighted to inform you that IFA and the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) have just agreed to form a partnership to collaborate on the important topic of outreach to farmers, and I encourage all IFA member companies to assist with shaping and implementing this partnership.

We can and will do more Our industry has done a lot in the past decades: we provide farmers with a wide range of fertilizers that correspond to the diversity of their crops and to agroclimatic conditions. The way we manu-

facture and move our products, and the way they are managed by farmers, have dramatically improved. We should probably communicate better our achievements as individual companies and as an industry. However, we can also do more – and will do more – to continue reducing the number of hungry and malnourished people, nurturing agricultural soils, improving farmers’ incomes, and preserving our environment. At a time when the world is negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the direction for the next 15 years, it is essential to show that we are part of the solution and that we are willing to do our job, now and together. Nutrient stewardship was the main topic of the Bridging Thoughts workshop coorganized by the Agriculture Committee and the Communicators Network at the end of January in Paris. Based on the roadmap agreed in Paris, IFA agronomists and communicators are contributing to international negotiations on the sustainable development agenda. They are considering initiatives such as the one with WFO to address the global nutrient challenge in its diversity and complexity. We will keep you informed of developments. I strongly encourage all those of you with an interest in nutrient stewardship to participate in IFA’s related initiatives. Jørgen Ole Haslestad is Chairman of the IFA Agriculture Committee and President and CEO of Yara International, Norway.

May 2014

Focus on


Sustainability and stewardship by Nick Drew n 2002, the members of what was then the Fertilizer Industry Federation of Australia (FIFA) decided to remake the organization to effectively engage with two key areas of public policy: quarantine and environment. Contamination of fertilizer cargo with grain or other organic matter was a serious issue, with quarantine authorities inspecting vessels on arrival and any contamination resulting in costly and disruptive re-export of the cargo. Working cooperatively with the responsible government agency, the industry has developed systems and processes that provide for inspection and quality assurance along the supply chain, so that fertilizer cargos are known to be clear of contamination prior to arrival in Australia. This has effectively mitigated a multimillion dollar risk for importers while meeting the requirement to protect Australian agriculture from the introduction of exotic pests and diseases. Phosphorus and nitrogen movement from agricultural land was an issue gaining increasing attention across Australia

John Lewis (center) receives an Australian Biosecurity Award (2014), on behalf of Fertilizer Australia, from Minister for Agriculture The Honourable Barnaby Joyce MP and Rona Mellor, Deputy Secretary, Department of Agriculture. The award recognises a significant contribution to biosecurity over a number of years.

© Fertilizer Australia


A demonstration of the Fertcare® Accu-Spread program on the lawns of Parliament House at the official launch of Fertcare® is symbolic of the success in public policy engagement. and particularly in the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef, an international environmental icon. FIFA engaged in discussion with the Australian government, state governments, farming organizations and interested NGOs, notably the WWF. Our message was that we recognized the problem of eutrophication, that our industry contributed to it, and that we were intent on playing a positive role in managing it. We backed this message of intent with the development of a national training, accreditation and certification programme, Fertcare®. As a direct result of our engagement, and the effectiveness of Fertcare® as a management tool, regulations and other policy measures have been designed that are consistent with science-based best practice for nutrient management on farms. The programme has strong support, including significant funding, from various levels of government and the integration of Fertcare® into policy responses. It has been independently reviewed, constantly updated, and won a Business and Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT) award in 2012. Based on the success of our engagement in public policy on quarantine and environmental issues, in 2013 the industry decided to ensure that we were

prepared to have a similar level of effective engagement across a range of issues identified as areas of risk for the industry. The industry had already developed voluntary codes of practice in a number of risk areas, including fertilizer handling, purchasing, labelling and security. The member code of practice also included some principles, including that claims made in advertising and promoting products should be capable of scientific substantiation. However, we had no information on how member companies were implementing these principles and codes of practice. At the start of 2014, all members of the association had completed an extensive survey on compliance with the agreed principles and codes of practice. Later in 2014 the industry will produce its first Sustainability and Stewardship report, which will discuss the issues facing the industry and how our programmes and codes of practice are contributing to risk management. The report will also detail our performance in implementing the programmes and codes of practice, so that we have a strong story to tell if and when we need to become actively engaged in public policy development in any of the areas covered. cont’d on page 4


4 fertilizers & agriculture cont’d from page 3

Sustainability and stewardship The codes of practice and survey are helping our members to ensure that they meet accepted industry standards in managing a range of risk and compliance issues. Based on our experience with quarantine and environment policy, the industry is confident that our efforts in sustainability and stewardship across a broader range of issues will enable our effective involvement in future policy development. This broader approach to risk management and reporting should increase the value and visibility of membership in the association. That prompted members to move to a simpler and clearer name, and in early 2013 the Fertilizer Industry Federation of Australia became Fertilizer Australia.

Detailed information about Fertilizer Australia, including the codes of practice and the Fertcare® programme, can be found at www.fertilizer.

Contact Nick Drew Executive Manager, Fertilizer Australia Maintaining productive agriculture and healthy waterways is probably the most important policy issue for the Australian Fertilizer Industry.


With your skills we can build a vibrant fertilizer value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa Increasing fertilizer consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa requires multiple interventions. One of these is strengthening the ability of the African fertilizer value chain to supply fertilizer to smallholder farmers. Therefore, IFA and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) have established a joint initiative, the African Fertilizer Volunteers Program (AFVP). AFVP is aimed at mobilizing global expertise in support of increasing smallholder fertilizer users and usage. Through AFVP, interested parties are given an opportunity to contribute to the development of the African fertilizer value chain by sharing their knowledge, time and expertise in order to build capacity and the workforce in Africa. Expertise is sought in a wide range of domains, from project development and financing to

marketing, through logistics, safety, health and environment in production, etc. AFVP provides a great opportunity for both retired practitioners and professionals still engaged in the industry to lend a hand in building a vibrant, sustainable fertilizer value chain in Sub-Saharan Africa. AFVP also offers sponsorship opportunities to companies. IFA members are invited to build bridges between AFVP and their employee engagement or corporate social responsibility programmes, or their foundations and other philanthropic activities. AFVP was officially launched on 20 February in Marrakech, Morocco. For more information, visit the AFVP website or contact Patrick Heffer at

Expertise is sought in a wide range of domains, from project development and financing to marketing, through logistics, safety, health and environment in production, etc.

May 2014ď ź


Enriched fertilizers improve human iodine nutrition by Harmen Tjalling Holwerda odine is an essential element in the human diet, and iodine deficiency is a significant global health problem. About 2 billion persons suffer from insufficient iodine intake, which may impair thyroid functioning – negatively affecting growth and development in all age groups. Depending on the degree of iodine deficiency, the following may occur: minor cognitive and neuropsychological deficits to irreversible mental retardation, brain damage, damage to the foetus, perinatal and infant mortalities, and endemic goiter. The most effective way to control iodine deficiency thus far has been through universal salt iodization, which has now reached its limit. Possible causes of reduced iodine intake with salt include changed diets, with less consumption of iodine-containing bread for breakfast; increased consumption of processed foods (without iodized salt); and less salt intake in order to prevent cardiovascular diseases. A promising alternative approach to controlling mineral malnutrition, especially in developing countries, is based on the biofortification of edible crops. Biofortification is the production of micronutrient-rich plants destined for human consumption. It can be achieved through selection of superior genotypes and improved agronomic approaches. Scientific studies have shown that plants absorb iodine through both roots and leaves. Including iodine in fertilizer formulations is a good solution to make sure it is applied homogenously and efficiently. This approach has resulted in adequate iodine fortification of edible parts of crops when the formulation is applied to the rooting zone of hydroponically and soil-grown vegetables (e.g. lettuce, spinach, tomato) or to above-ground plant parts (e.g. of cereals, potato, carrot and onion) with foliar sprays. Research has confirmed that iodine in biofortified food is readily bioavailable



Trial overview with lettuce, submitted to iodine-enriched fertilizer solution. the Netherlands1. This biennial award is granted for a ground-breaking publication in the field of plant nutrition. Studies conducted so far have demonstrated encouraging results in increasing iodine concentrations in food crops. However, more research is required to study iodine uptake from iodineenriched fertilizers in various crops under different cultivation methods and growing conditions in order to market iodine-biofortified foods in a cost-effective manner. and assimilated. Importantly, the iodine content in these crops was preserved after common cooking procedures. The benefits of iodine-enriched fertilizers are directly related to addressing one of the main global human health problems, and to the fundamental role the fertilizer industry plays in growing healthy and nutritious foods for human well-being. Offering iodine-enriched fertilizers may be part of the social responsibility programmes of some fertilizer companies. SQM has been actively supporting scientific research related to iodine biofortification of crops. One scientific paper about iodine uptake of hydroponic lettuce received the Bram Steiner Award from the Royal Agricultural Society of

Voogt, W., H.T. Holwerda and R. Khodabaks. 2010. Biofortification of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) with iodine: the effect of iodine form and concentration in the nutrient solution on growth, development and iodine uptake of lettuce grown in water culture. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture Vol. 90 (5): 906-913. 1

Contact Harmen Tjalling Holwerda Global Market and Product Development Director Water-Soluble Specialty Plant Nutrition SQM Europe N.V., Belgium


IFA looks forward to welcoming you in Sydney for its 82nd Annual Conference where about 1000 participants are expected!

Conference sponsors TUESDAY 27 MAY

Esin Mete IFA President and CEO of Tekfen Holding’s Agri-Division and Chairwoman of Toros AgriIndustry Group.

2014 IFA Norman Borlaug Award by the winner Dr. Xuhua Zhong of the Rice Research Institute Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China IFA is pleased to recognize Dr. Zhong’s exemplary extension work on nitrogen use efficiency. The recognition of his work is most relevant given the Chinese context in which nitrogen use efficiency improvements have come to the forefront of the sustainable development agenda.

May 2014ď ź

TUESDAY 27 MAY Michael Harris Chief Economist, Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences Research findings and recommendations on how the world can best meet the growing demands of the agricultural sector.

Achim Steiner Executive Director, UN Environmental Program Video address: the role of nutrient management as a global challenge for the agricultural sector.

Mark Sutton

Ann Tutwiler

Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Director General, Biodiversity International

Reactive nitrogen: key scientific findings, and update on major initiatives.

Why biodiversity matters and the role of fertilizers.

Howard Minigh

Matt Linnegar

President, CropLife International

CEO, Australian Farmers’ Federation

Product stewardship efforts of the crop protection and Ag Biotech industry.

Nutrient performance and stewardship The roundtable will provide an overview of key issues and debates pertaining to nutrient stewardship and nutrient use efficiency and end with an overview of IFA activities in this area.

WEDNESDAY 28 MAY Medium-Term Outlook for World Agriculture and Fertilizer Demand: 2013/14 - 2018/19 Patrick Heffer, Senior Director IFA Agriculture Service Fertilizers and Raw Materials - Global Supply 2014 to 2018 Michel Prud'homme, Senior Director, IFA PIT Service

How do Australian farmers practice nutrient stewardship?


8 fertilizers & agriculture Farmer outreach This article is the third in the series of “innovative ideas on effective last-mile delivery” undertaken by IFA members.

Customized fertilizers for 4R nutrient stewardship by A.K. Nair, S.V.S. Subrahmanyam and M.N. Bhaskaran


ustomized Fertilizers (CFs) are unique, ready-to-use granulated fertilizers designed to optimize the use of nutrients in order to obtain quality crops, high farm productivity and profitability. The Government of India designated Customized Fertilizers as a separate category under the Fertilizer Control Order, effective from 2008. NFCL is the first company in India to receive official approval for Customized Fertilizers from the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of India for manufacture and marketing. Specific guidelines on the process of approving Customized Fertilizer formulations manufactured for sale have been issued by the Government of India. This process includes the selection of a targeted geographical location/cluster; collection of agro-ecological and socio-economic information about the location/ cluster; selection of the crop or cropping system; collection of soil samples, lab analysis, and identification of limiting nutrients and availability status; deriva-

tion of Customized Fertilizer (CF) formulations using crop models and decision support systems; trial manufacture of CF formulations; conducting multi-location on-farm trials at specific geographical locations with variable rates; compilation of information and finalization of optimum rates; obtaining official approval from the Government of India; market promotion; and manufacturing and marketing of officially approved CFs. The CF development process is complex, but the end results are very promising. A team of soil scientists, agronomists, crop experts and field supervisors will be involved in the evolution of Customized Fertilizers. A state-of-the-art laboratory facility has been established to analyze soil, plant and fertilizer samples. A team of engineers and technicians will also be involved in the manufacture of Customized Fertilizers before field trials begin. A group of market promotion experts will raise awareness of the product among the farming community and train them on appropriate fertilizer use.

Sales executives and dealers will work with dealers on positioning fertilizers in designated areas. A model illustrating a knowledge transfer protocol for Customized Fertilizers has been developed for paddy crop in the agriculturally intensive East and West Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh. The right source (geographyand crop-specific Customized Fertilizers) with the right quantity (doses) recommended at the right times (i.e. at three critical crop stages) with the right placement (basal, topdress) are indicative of 4R stewardship and the promotion of Fertilizer Best Management Practices (FBMPs) (see figure).

Provision of fertilizer products and services together to the farming community – the cluster concept To encourage farmers to accept and adopt the plant nutrition solutions offered to them, NFCL has evolved and put into practice the cluster concept. There are three stages:

Stage 1. Awareness

A model of technology transfer on usage of customized fertilizers for paddy crop in a designated geography, illustrating 4R nutrient management stewardship.

A group of villages was adopted by the market development team ahead of the cropping season. In these cluster villages a survey was conducted and a group of progressive farmers was identified, based on criteria developed internally. Appropriate communications were established and training sessions were organized by experts, in which the need for balanced fertilization to improve productivity and profitability and the use of Customized Fertilizers were explained (including methods and quantities needed at different stages of crop growth). NFCL has developed technical films about FBMPs on crop production technology and product awareness,

May 2014

which are screened across the cluster villages using audiovisual vans. As a result of this cluster-based outreach approach, large numbers of farmers across the state of Andhra Pradesh have used Customized Fertilizers and benefited in terms of improved productivity and farm incomes. NFCL plans to reach out to the farming community in other states across India over the next few years.

Stage 2. Implementation

Raising awareness of Customized Fertilizers through interactive sessions and an audio-visual education campaign.

During the cropping season, fertilizers will be supplied to groups of farmers who are taught appropriate ways to apply them. Development officers and their teams will work with them throughout the season, helping them to adopt these practices. Several observations will be made during crop growth. Just before the harvest, other farmers will be invited to witness the effect of Customized Fertilizers and will be given the opportunity to interact and have any doubts they have clarified. Dealers and government officials will be invited to participate.


Stage 3. Evaluation

Interaction with farmers and field visits during the implementation phase.

During the third phase, an intensive evaluation process will take place and farmer feedback will be recorded. Farmers will be asked to express their opinions freely about the product and yields obtained, while comparing their practices, quality of produce, pest/disease incidence, costs of fertilizers, profits, etc. Neighbouring farmers will be invited to participate in discussions. At this stage, government officials, crop experts and the media will also be involved. Successful farmers will receive due recognition of their efforts. Efficient use of fertilizers by farmers requires not only rigorous in-house scientific activity, but also provision of appropriate services to farmers. Each programme needs to be evaluated and refined, so that knowledge and information are adequately transferred to farmers and further diffused to their counterparts. Farmer-to-farmer dissemination of information is important, as farmer opinion is a powerful medium. Keeping this in view, NFCL gives pivotal importance to providing value-added fertilizer products and services together to the farming community.

Evaluation and review sessions with farmers. NFCL has been associated with various programmes organized by the Fertilizer Association of India, a number of public institutes, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and the Government of India. It partners with them in creating value for farmers. The most important task has been to raise awareness among various key players, in order to make this concept acceptable at different levels. Officials from NFCL have made significant contributions to such programmes. NFCL has evolved several customized plant nutrition solutions for the farming community of Andhra Pradesh, India, on primary crops (rice, maize, cotton, chillies) and is moving ahead to work on other important crops and in other agriculturally important regions. Since this is a relatively new initiative, more support and encouragement will be required from the government to take the concept forward and facilitate making efficient fertilizer products and appropriate services available to farmers, thus strengthening our commitment to “Serving Society through Industry”.

Contact Dr Arun. K. Nair General Manager Customized Fertilizers Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (NFCL) Punjagutta, Hyderabad, India

For more information on nutrient stewardship, consult the new IFA website: and also


10 fertilizers & agriculture

IFA news 2015 IFA Norman Borlaug Award for exellence in crop nutrition research

2014 IFA Norman Borlaug Award laureate For excellence in crop nutrition knowledge transfer

The 2015 award is for developed countries and international research and development centers/institutes. Information on the nomination process will be posted in July 2014 at

© Xuhua Zhong

New IFA video

Dr. Xuhua Zhong is the 2014 IFA NorIFA launched a new video presenting the association's objectives and activities.

2014 IFA

Global Technical Symposium

The critical role of fertilizer innovation to ensure food security Opening remarks by IFA's president Ms Esin Mete at IFA’s Global Technical Symposium in April 2014. Download the speech:

Climate change thematic discussion: feeding an increasing population while tackling climate change C. Hebebrand. World Farmers' Organization, General Assembly, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 25-29 March 2014 Dowload the presentation:

man Borlaug Award laureate for his exemplary extension work on nitrogen use efficiency. The recognition of his work is most relevant given the Chinese context in which nitrogen use efficiency improvements have come to the forefront of the sustainable development agenda. Since the early 1990s, rice production in China was beset with low nitrogen use efficiency resulting in high production cost, low yields, low profits for farmers and negative impacts on the environment. Dr. Zhong, who has been working on rice nutrient management, developed the “three controls” technology: control of fertilizer N input, control of unproductive tillers and control of pest and diseases. The technology consists of determining the right N fertilizer rate, and applying this at the right time, i.e. splitting the application at key growth stages. The technology also includes determination of the amount and timing of phosphorus and potassium requirements and other crop management measures. With the ”three controls” technology, nitrogen recovery efficiency increased from less than 30% for farmers' practice to 40%. Farmers can now save on inputs such as fertilizer-N and pesticide sprays and still achieve a 10% increase in grain yield, giving extra income to farmers. The new technology was officially recommended to rice farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, China. Dr. Zhong developed numerous innovative materials and tools to make his ex-

tension work easier for farmers to take up. The “three controls” technology is web based and has been transposed into leaflets, CDs and videos which are widely used and distributed in many farmer training courses in the provinces, counties, towns, and villages. The “three controls” technology is now one of the most widely adopted rice-growing technologies in China. Dr. Xuhua Zhong is a crop physiologist and is currently the head of the Crop Physiology and Ecology Laboratory at the Rice Research Institute, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He obtained his Ph.D in plant physiology from South China Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zhong was nominated by Shenzhen Batian Ecotypic Engineering Co., Ltd. and he was selected by an independent selection panel. The laureate will accept his award at the Opening Session of the IFA Annual Conference on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 in Sydney, Australia.

IFA Norman Borlaug Award Consistent with its current emphasis on last-mile delivery, IFA recognizes that research alone is not enough to achieve meaningful progress at the farm level. Effective knowledge transfer is needed for the wider adoption of improved nutrient management practices. In that connection, IFA recognizes researchers who have successfully communicated the outcome of their work to the farmers.

May 2014

Nutrient/fertilizer use efficiency: measurement, current situation and trends

by Paul Fixen, Frank Brentrup, Tom Bruulsema, Fernando Garcia, Rob Norton and Shamie Zingore Nutrient use efficiency (NUE) is a critically important concept in the evaluation of crop production systems. It can be greatly impacted by fertilizer management as well as by soil- and plantwater management. The objective of nutrient use is to increase the overall performance of cropping systems by providing economically optimum nourishment to the crop while minimizing nutrient losses from the field. NUE addresses some but not all aspects of that performance. Therefore, system optimization goals necessarily include overall productivity as well as NUE. The most appropriate expression of NUE is determined by the question being asked and often by the spatial or temporal scale of interest for which reliable data are avail-

able. In this chapter we suggest typical NUE levels for cereal crops when recommended practices are employed; however, such benchmarks are best set locally within the appropriate cropping system, soil, climate and management context. Global temporal trends in NUE vary by region. For N, P and K, partial nutrient balance (ratio of nutrients removed by crop harvest to fertilizer nutrients applied) and partial factor productivity (crop production per unit of nutrient applied) for Africa, North America, Europe, and the EU-15 are trending upwards, while in Latin America, India, and China they are trending downwards. Though these global regions can be divided into two groups based on temporal trends, great variability exists in factors behind

the trends within each group. Numerous management and environmental factors, including plant water status, interact to influence NUE. In similar fashion, plant nutrient status can markedly influence water use efficiency. These relationships will be covered in detail in other chapters of the book. Chapter 1. IFA, IWMI, IPNI and IPI, April 2014. 30 p. Download the pdf file at The upcoming publication Managing Water and Fertilizer for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification by IFA, IWMI, IPNI and IPI is due to be published during the fourth quarter of 2014.

IFA events 40th IFA Enlarged Council Meeting*

PIT Production and International Trade Conference 29–30 September 2014 Beijing, China PR This event offers an excellent opportunity to interact with senior executives from major international fertilizer producers and trading companies. A special emphasis will be placed on supply-related issues. This conference is designed by the IFA Production and International Trade Committee for all IFA members and for the first time also for non-members.

IFA Crossroads Asia-Pacific 2014 28–30 October 2014 Singapore Focusing on the pivotal Asian region and Pacific basin, IFA Crossroads Asia-Pacific attracts some 300 participants in attendance. This event is organized under the guidance of the Regional Vice Presidents for all IFA members with an interest in Asia and the Pacific as well as newcomers acquainting themselves with the Association in view of potential membership.

19-20 November 2014 Marakech, Morocco

The situation and outlook for the fertilizer industry are examined in this meeting, during which members of the IFA Council and chief executives of its member companies convene to adopt the following year’s budget.

Events 2015 Joint Agriculture and Communications Meeting 13-15 January, Paris, France Global Safety Summit 23-26 March, Vancouver, Canada 83rd IFA Annual Conference 25-27 May, Istanbul, Turkey

More information on upcoming events: *

Restricted to IFA member companies


12  fertilizers && agriculture agriculture 12 fertilizers

VFRC creates new scientific protocols for developing novel fertilizers These complexities in nutrient delivery, uptake and metabolism have led the VFRC to five basic considerations (reThe Virtual Fertilizer Research Center ferred to by the Center as the “Fertilizer (VFRC) has begun to develop a compreTech5”) when exploring new fertilizer technology: hensive overview of plant and nutrient 1- composition (what combination of processes as the basis for the establishnutrients), ment of new scientific protocols for fu2- packaging (in what chemical form or ture research. VFRC Executive Director carrier), Prem Bindraban argues that by focusing 3- application (in what way), research on basic biological and ecologi4- crop (on what plant) and cal processes, the Center and its science 5- ecosystem (what ecological and envipartners will be better positioned to quickly bring more efficient and effecronmental condition). A good example of the Tech5 concept tive fertilizer technologies to market, can be seen in current research on leparticularly those that are accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers. gumes. While most legumes symbiTo that end, the VFRC and its partners otically use Rhizobium to fix nitrogen, have released five VFRC Reports that bethey remain very difficult to grow in many parts of the world without an adgin to form a basis for standardization in the Center’s research and developequate supply of phosphorus (composiment efforts. tion), and they also may not grow well “We need to make sure our avenues to in soils lacking sufficient micronutrients arrive at innovative fertilizers are truly such as copper, zinc or molybdenum. scientifically based,” says Bindraban, citFurther, in what form will the phosphoing that many studies, for example on rus or secondary and micronutrients foliar spray efficacy, basically employ be applied (packaging) – as a liquid or ad hoc, trial and error experimentasolid? As a blend or singularly? Can we ‘bypass’ the soil as a nutrient-providing tion, often without understanding the medium through foliar application of biological mechanisms assumed to carry some nutrients? Are they being grown nutrients from points of application to in a cycle or intercropped (ecosystem)? points of biological metabolism. “We How should the nutrient be applied (apmust truly understand how plant biology works,” Bindraban notes, “before plication)? If legumes are being grown we can create protocols singularly, foliar sprays for effectively developcould be cost-effective We need to make for a farmer, whereas if ing and testing new sure our avenues to intercropped, a blend nutrient products.” Acmay be more effective, cording to Bindraban, arrive at innovative depending on the other different plants most fertilizers are truly plant being intercropped likely require different scientifically based.  (crop). resources – and these “If we want solutions, we have to think may need to be applied in different out of the box, but we have to do it in ways. For instance, improving the yield the most thoughtful way possible,” says and nutritional quality of leafy vegeBindraban. “That means that instead tables through foliar fertilizers may be of myopically focusing on the ‘lifeless’ effective. Yet, improving the quality of chemical processes that produced the cereals through the same mechanism last big breakthrough in fertilizer techmay not be effective if nutrients cannot be translocated from the leaves to the nology (that took place over the past 50 grains. to 100 years), we have to focus on the It is essential therefore to understand ‘living’ biological processes and instruct the biochemical pathways of nutrients. the chemists how to best ‘package’ the

nutrients. Understanding these basic living and lifeless processes and their interactions will get viable solutions into the pipeline.” To wit, researchers know, for example, that microorganisms and fungi can extend root length to exploit soil nutrients, and that plant roots excrete organic acids to pull more phosphorus from the soil. But before such knowledge can be exploited, these – along with other biological processes – must be better understood. By providing protocols for research based on the lessons learned from the published reports, the VFRC and its collaborating partners waste no time with trial-and-error but rather focus on truly viable options both in improving current fertilizer technology for today and creating novel fertilizer technologies for tomorrow. The VFRC Reports underpin the Center’s research into the next generation of fertilizer technologies: Research/VFRC_Reports.

International Fertilizer Industry Association 28, rue Marbeuf, 75008 Paris, France Tel: +33 1 53 93 05 00 Fax: +33 1 53 93 05 45/47 @FertilizerNews! Fertilizers & Agriculture is a quarterly newsletter published by IFA covering issues in relation to fertilizers and sustainable agriculture. Mailing list Subscription to Fertilizers & Agriculture is free of charge. To receive a hard copy, send full address details to be added to the mailing list. Additional copies may be supplied to organizations to circulate on behalf of IFA. To consult current and past issues of Fertilizers & Agriculture: Contributions We invite your contributions of letters, documents, articles, photographs, etc. Director General of IFA: Charlotte Hebebrand Editor-in-Chief: Claudine Aholou-Pütz Material in F&A may be reproduced only after prior consent by IFA. Reference to individuals, publications, research, products, companies or organizations does not indicate endorsement by IFA. For information on IFA’s © International Fertilizer Industry Association 2014 Printed with vegetable-based ink by Point44 on paper from sustainably managed forests.

Fertilizers & Agriculture May 2014  

Focus on Fertilizers Australia, iodine biofortification, IFA annual conference in Sydney, customized fertilizers for 4R nutrient stewardship...