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IFA Science Awards Winner
06 Mar 2019

Dr. Andrew Sharpley

Dr. Andrew Sharpley’s work has had a huge impact on helping farmers to better understand how to effectively manage phosphorus fertilizers to avoid losses.

Dr. Sharpley pioneered the development of new environmental risk assessment tools, based on his research findings, which have been used by farmers and agronomists, as well as regulatory and resource conservation agencies throughout the world, to develop cost-effective conservation strategies to protect water quality.

By developing the P Index, a tool to identify which areas on a farm are most susceptible to phosphorus nutrient loss, Dr. Sharpley has enabled farmers to more effectively target their fertilizer use, and helped reduce the amount of phosphorus lost to the environment in the U.S. by an estimated 25 thousand tonnes.

The success of the P Index is highlighted by the fact that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has adopted it as the cornerstone of their nutrient management planning at Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in 49 U.S. states. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the NRCS also use the indexing approach to prioritize and target conservation measures across the U.S.

Dr. Sharpley has also worked closely with farmers, crop consultants, state and federal agencies, and non-governmental stakeholders to develop and maintain an internationally recognized on-farm research and demonstration project, the Arkansas Discovery Farm Program.

At the twelve discovery farms currently operating across Arkansas, researchers work to minimize the potential runoff of nutrients from land to water by evaluating the role of conservation methods such as reduced tillage and cover crops, alongside nutrient stewardship, at protecting the soil and reducing nutrient run-off.

The program results have reassured farmers that they are providing safe and affordable food supplies, while seeing the practices in action has empowered them to improve their nutrient management and water conservation.

Dr. Sharpley has received a wide array of recognition for his research and outreach efforts, including Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America and those Society’s Environmental Quality Research and Soil Science Applied Research Awards. He was inducted into the USDA-ARS Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2010 received the International Plant Nutrition Institute Science Award.

Dr. Sharpley is the distinguished professor of soils and water quality for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.