Dr. Svetlana Ivanova
Driving nutrient management in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
IPNI’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) Program consists of two large regions: Central Russia, and Southern and Eastern Russia, with a total area of arable land and permanent crops amounting to 204 million ha. The Vice-President of this region is Dr. Sveltana Ivanova, who spoke to IFA about her role, and her region’s challenges.
IFA: Can you explain what does your role of Vice-President entail, and what are your responsibilities?
Dr. S. Ivanova
: When I began working for IPNI in 2007, it did not have any program in the EECA region. I opened the first IPNI office of the EECA in Moscow and created my team, that is still working with me today! My next step was to set up an effective program focused on providing scientific support for IPNI members for developing a fertilizer market in the region.
Currently, our programs consist of research projects, seminars and workshops, training for dealers and the development of printed materials in Russian. Every quarter, we issue and distribute our newsletter in Russian, a 22-page practical agronomy journal.
My responsibility as Vice-President can be summarized to two main functions: to identify opportunities in the EECA region, and to effectively implement the regional program aimed at increasing crop production and promoting proper fertilizer use.
IFA: What are the key characteristics of the region you cover, and the key topics you work on?
Dr. S. Ivanova: The EECA region is very large and covers all former Soviet Union (FSU) countries. It isn’t uniform in terms of agricultural development. We focus mainly on Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as countries with the largest crop areas. These three countries also face similar issues related to plant nutrition and fertilizer use: a lack of up-to-date, science-based information on plant nutrition and proper fertilizer use in modern crop production; outdated fertilizer recommendations for traditional food, fiber and fodder crops and pastures; and no fertilizer recommendations for crops that farmers have recently started to grow, for instance soybean. Also, we have seen inadequate or unbalanced nutrient applications for P, K, S and micronutrients; inappropriate routine soil testing for P and K; and little to no improvement of acidic or sodic soils.
Despite these challenges, we have seen a very rapid development of agricultural production in these countries, thanks to the emergence of large commercial farming operations. These farms invest a lot in new equipment, high quality seeds, agrochemicals and fertilizers.
We conduct our research projects directly on these leading farms, narrowing the existing gap between the current crop yield and attainable yield. This is why the results of fertilizer best management practices based on 4R Nutrient Stewardship obtained in regional IPNI research projects can be easily and rapidly implemented into practice.
IFA: Which challenges do you face in the dissemination of fertilizer best management practices, and the 4Rs?
Dr. S. Ivanova: In general, and according to my experience in the region, the principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship are accepted easily by professional agronomists working in large farms, and by the scientific community.
I believe however that the two biggest challenges for the dissemination and implementation of the 4Rs in the EECA region are related to the availability of the “right source” of fertilizers, as there is a limited number of fertilizer products on the market. The most popular products sold are ammonium nitrate and complex NPKs (triple 15 for instance). The second challenge is their ineffective distribution; which results in the absence of even simple single fertilizer products in some important agricultural regions. Quite often, we have to buy proper fertilizers for our research projects 500 to 700 km away from the location of the research plots!
IFA: Are you currently working on a specific project?
Dr. S. Ivanova: I’m currently working in cooperation with Phosagro on a special program focused on market development for new fertilizer products, such as S-containing fertilizers or liquid N and P fertilizers.
In addition, I continue to work on two research projects with high impact potential on the fertilizer market: the first is focused on intensification of northern forage production, which began last year on a large dairy farm in Vologda - Vologda is the key region for milk production in Russia.
The second project focuses on improvement of recommendations on potash fertilizer use and adjustment of currently used soil K test interpretation classes in intensive cropping systems. The results obtained in this project have allowed us to update our K recommendations for sugar beets, grain maize and rapeseed produced in Central Russia, and to develop new recommendations for soybean.
About Dr. S. Ivanova:
A native of Moscow, Dr. Svetlana Ivanova graduated with honors in 1995 and received her Ph.D. in 1999 at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. Her Ph.D. thesis examined the changes in the buffer capacity of forest podzolic soils to acids and alkalis under the influence of simulated acid precipitations. From 1999 to 2001 she was a research scientist in the Institute of Oceanology (Russian Academy of Science). She worked as agronomist from 2001 to 2002. From September 2002 to 2007 she was employed by JSC “Uralkali”, based in Berezniki, as a senior technical expert. Starting in 2005, Dr. Ivanova worked as coordinator of the China program of the International Potash Institute. In August of 2008 Dr. Ivanova joined the International Plant Nutrition Institute as Vice-President for Eastern Europe and Central Asia region. Throughout her career, Dr. Ivanova has been active in community and professional organizations, including the recent service as member of several task forces of the Agriculture Committee in IFA. She authored an impressive list of scientific publications as well as technical reports and presentations. Dr. Ivanova is a member of the Dokuchaev Soil Science Society of Russia.