IFA Science Awards Winner
06 Mar 2000

Graeme Blair

Plant nutritionist Graeme Blair, Professor at the University of New England (UNE), Australia, was nominated for the 2000 International Fertilizer Award by IFA's member Incitec Ltd.

The Award honours Professor Blair for a career dedicated to research work in the field of sulphur in agricultural systems that has led to considerable improvements in sulphur fertilizer use efficiency. In particular, Prof. Blair's research led to substantial increases in rapeseed yield and oil concentration, increased profits to farmers and more environmentally friendly fertilizer use. A unique feature of the research approach adopted by Blair has been the use of radioactive and stable tracers of sulphur. By understanding the transformations between organic and inorganic forms of sulphur in soil he, and his colleagues, were able to develop the KCl-40 sulphur soil test, which is used in all major soil testing laboratories in Australia. The Plant Nutrition team at UNE, under Professor Blair's leadership, has developed and patented a sulphur coating process to add elemental sulphur to non-sulphur-containing fertilizers such as triple superphosphate, diammonium phosphate and urea. His sulphur research in Indonesia, with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), led to the introduction of sulphur into the national fertilizer package in that country.

The high calibre of Blair's research has been recognized by many international and national agencies through invitations to advise them on sulphur research and development. The results of his sulphur research have been communicated directly to farmers through field days and brochures, to government extension agencies and commercial service providers, to the scientific community through publications and to students. A key feature of the communication programme has been his organization of three international symposia on sulphur and invitations to speak at almost every major sulphur meeting held throughout the world.

Since 1987, Prof. Xie has been the Secretary General of the Soil Science Society of China. He has extensive international connections and is engaged in many professional exchanges. He has organized six international workshops on potassium and has published more than one hundred papers. He is the Chief Editor of "English-Chinese Dictionary of Soil Science" and of "Paddy Soils of China". He has made many suggestions to policy-making bodies at different levels concerning the need for potassium fertilizers in China.