"Soil anaemia also breeds human anaemia. Micronutrient deficiency in the soil results in micronutrient malnutrition in people, since crops grown on such soils tend to be deficient in the nutrients needed to fight hidden hunger. (...) Managing our soil and water resources in a sustainable and equitable manner needs a new political vision."

M.S. Swaminathan, Chairperson of the High Level of Panel of Experts (HLPE), UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS)






The UN's view on Malnutrition - Dr. David Nabarro

Traditionally, fertilizers have been used to maintain or restore soil fertility, increase crop yield and improve crop quality. Their management has been progressively improved to optimize their economic return, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. New research has recently revealed another key role of fertilizers in providing solutions not only to food security but also to malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. IFA is spearheading efforts to encourage the adoption of agronomic bioforticiation by adding micronutrients to fertilizers to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies worldwide. 

Good human health not only requires enough calories but also sufficient intake of all essential nutrients. Billions of people, mostly in developing countries, suffer from micronutrient malnutrition, sometimes referred to as “hidden hunger”. The nutrient deficiencies most commonly associated with human health problems on a global scale are iron, zinc and iodine, but selenium and fluorine deficiencies are also widespread. Micro-enriched fertilization is considered one of the most promising ways to fight malnutrition in soils, livestock and people.

While some initiatives have promoted micronutrient fertilization in specific countries (Turkey, China, Finland, Australia, India, New Zealand), they should be implemented in a larger number of countries where similar deficiencies in soils, crops and humans are widespread. Fertilization practices can also impact the composition of food products. Enhancing the levels of health-beneficial compounds could be considered a fertilization objective as well. Potassium fertilization can enhance antioxidants in tomato and soybean. 

IFA and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) are encouraging the fertilizer industry and governments around the world to promote this simple, affordable and sustainable solution to alleviate malnutrition and nutrient-related diseases that mostly affect women and children worldwide.

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Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health - Infographics


IFA and its partners (IPNI and IZA) produced a series of infographics demonstrating the significant role that fertilizers can have as part of worldwide strategies to fight malnutrition through the role of micronutrient fertilization.


Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health - A Scientific Review


IFA and IPNI commissioned in 2008 an extensive scientific literature review of the state of knowledge in the complex domain of fertilizer use and human health. Leading scientists were identified to prepare the chapters of the publication “Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health”. All the chapters have been peer-reviewed by academic scientists in order to ensure the publication presents a thorough and balanced analysis. It aims at disseminating some of the most recent research around the role of macro and micronutrients fertilization as part of strategies to fight malnutrition and improve human health.
The book is available as a hardcopy and as a pdf.

Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health - Executive Summary

TitleLanguagesClick Link
Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: a Scientific Review. Executive Summary. Arabic Version - Read More ... ArabicDownload
Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: a Scientific Review. Executive Summary. Chinese Version - Read More ... CHINESEDownload
Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: a Scientific Review. Executive Summary - Read More ... ENGLISHDownload
Etude scientifique: Fertiliser les cultures pour améliorer la santé des hommes. Résumé - Read More ... FRENCHDownload
Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: a Scientific Review. Executive Summary. Japanese Version - Read More ... JapaneseDownload
Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: a Scientific Review. Executive Summary. Russian Version - Read More ... RUSSIANDownload
Fertilizar los Cultivos para Mejorar la Salud Humana: Un estudio Cientifico. Resumen - Read More ... SpanishDownload

Micronutrients bibliography
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Smart Phosphates and Micronutrients - New Concept in Fertilization - Read More ... Varadachari, C.2016Download
Smart Phosphates and Micronutrients - New Concept in Fertilization - Read More ... Varadachari, C.2016Download
Delayed Release of Micronutrient Boron through Biodegradable Sachets - Read More ... Liu, L.2016Download

Zinc featured papers
TitleAuthorsYearClick Link
The Role of Fertilizers in Nutrition Security. Three Examples of Micronutrient Fertilization - Read More ...  2011Download
Zinc in Soils and Crop Nutrition - Read More ... Alloway, B.J.2008Download

Zinc bibliography

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Developing more Effective Fertilizers - Read More ... McLaughlin, M.J.2015Download
Fertilization with Copper and Zinc to Reduce the Impact of Ganoderma in Oil Palm Plantations - Read More ... Abdul Rahman, Z.2015Download
Micronutrients for Better Human Health - Read More ... Cakmak, I.2014Download

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