Dr. Harold Reetz Jr.
Feeding the world in a sustainable way: the importance of nutrient stewardship
Dr. Harold Reetz Jr. presents his latest book “Fertilizers and their Efficient Use”, published by IFA
IFA: Your book explains what fertilizers are, and why they should be managed efficiently. Why focus on this topic?
Dr. Harold Reetz Jr.:Because fertilizers help feed the world. They are responsible for approximately half of the world’s food production today. 48% of the global population lives thanks to the increase in crop production that was made possible by the widespread use of mineral fertilizers. The world’s population is estimated to grow to 9.7 billion in 2050, and its demand in food will continue to increase too, but in a context of shrinking arable land and climate change.
It’s therefore important for people to know what fertilizers are, how crucial for the global food security they are, and how to use them efficiently to avoid negative effects on the environment and improve farming profitability. This book is designed as a reference guide on their use for farmers and their advisors.
IFA: A key concept in your book is nutrient stewardship, what does it entail?
Dr. Harold Reetz Jr.: Nutrient stewardship refers to the management of plant nutrients in a way that improves the social, economic and environmental performance of fertilizers.
Readers will find an overview of key concepts of nutrient management, like the 4Rs, which entail applying the right nutrient source at the right rate, at the right time, in the right place, but also ways to implement these concepts! Recommendations on how to follow good science and the 4R principles are given throughout the book, such as testing soil or using enhanced-efficiency fertilizers (Right source); estimating crop nutrient requirements (Right rate); tracking weather patterns (Right time); placing nutrients next to the roots (Right place).
The book also presents innovative technologies in farming that have proven to increase and improve plants’ uptake of nutrients, helping increase productivity on arable land.
IFA: What are the main takeaways from your book?
Dr. Harold Reetz Jr.: Fertilizers, when applied following Fertilizer Best Management Practices (FBMPs), not only enhance crop production and farming profitability but also reduce their potential negative impacts on air and water resources. FBMPs fulfil four management objectives of productivity, profitability, cropping system sustainability and a favourable biophysical and social environment; a complete integrated farming system includes FBMPs, crop management, and all soil and plant nutrient management components.
The book also highlights the multiple environmental, economic and social benefits deriving from the 4R nutrient management framework, such as better crop performance, improved soil health, reduced environmental impacts, the protection of biodiversity, the increase in farmers’ profits, the reduced prevalence of hunger and malnutrition, improved rural livelihoods and stronger farmer communities.
Find out more about the book by listening to our 2016 webinar with Dr. Harold Reetz, Jr. available on YouTube! “Fertilizers and their Efficient Use” is also available for download from our Library.
About Dr. Harold Reetz Jr.:
Dr. Reetz is an agronomic consultant and owner of Reetz Agroonomics LLC. which provides consulting services in agronomy, high yield cropping systems, precision farming technologies and on-farm research. He previously worked with the International Plant Nutrition Institute, as Midwest Director (US) and as President of the Foundation for Agronomic Research. He has focused his career on integrated crop and soil management systems for high yield crop production, promoting technologies for nutrient management and precision agriculture.