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IFA Science Awards Winner
06 Mar 2008

Achim Dobermann

Achim Dobermann, Deputy Director General for Research of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is the recipient of the 2008 IFA International Crop Nutrition Award. The award recognizes Dr. Dobermann’s pioneering research on the fine-tuning of fertilizer and crop management practices in order to promote the ecological intensification of rice, maize and soybean production systems in many countries.

Rice is the primary staple crop of roughly two-thirds of the world population. It accounts for 15 per cent of global fertilizer use; improving crop nutrient use efficiency in rice production is therefore central to meeting growing food demand sustainably. Raising rice yields per kilogram of fertilizer applied increases farmer profitability, reduces nutrient losses to the environment and eases pressure on natural resources. Eighty per cent of the world’s rice is grown by small-scale famers, which means that efficient and productive rice farming can help improve the economic prospects and quality of life of many of the world’s poor.

As a Soil Nutrient Specialist and Project Team Leader at IRRI (1992-2000), Dr. Dobermann led the development of a new approach to site-specific nutrient management in small-scale rice production systems. One of his most important contributions has been the innovative crop-driven management of plant nutrients for cereal crops. This approach is more flexible than traditional recommendations for soil fertility and fertilizer management. At IRRI he spearheaded work concerned with on-farm research strategies that set new standards for long-term involvement of farmers in the research process. His efforts led to closer collaboration between scientists, extension workers and the private sector in many countries.

Subsequently, while based at the University of Nebraska (2000-07), Dr. Dobermann led research programmes on the ecological intensification of maize and soybean production; greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration; new farming recommendations for high-yield maize production systems; and precision farming technologies for site-specific crop management. His work has demonstrated how fertilizer best management practices can create significant mutual benefits for farmers and society in some of the world’s most intensive cropping systems.

Dr. Dobermann was nominated for the 2008 IFA International Crop Nutrition Award by K+S KALI GmbH, which was impressed by his dedication to the principle that high food production, profitability, high nutrient use efficiency and minimal environmental impact are compatible and can be achieved through finely tuned crop management practices.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)