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IFA Science Awards Winner
06 Mar 2004

Kenneth G. Cassman

Dr. Kenneth G. Cassman was chosen by a distinguished panel of experts to receive the 2004 IFA International Crop Nutrition Award for work that improves fertilizer use efficiency, has positive environmental impacts and has been successfully communicated to a wide range of farmers.

"Rarely in my career have I met someone with such a broad knowledge of plant nutrition," says IFA Director General Luc M. Maene. "We at IFA are pleased to see someone as deserving as Ken rewarded for his dedication to marrying the goals of global food security and environmental sustainability."

Dr. Cassman's 27-year career in research and extension on plant nutrition, nutrient cycling and soil quality has been distinguished by the breadth of his work on all three major plant nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K). He is a firm advocate of the crucial role of fertilizers in crop intensification, which he considers necessary to safeguard important natural ecosystems that contain much of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. He argues that in order to meet the dual goals of global food security and protection of natural resources, fertilizer use efficiency must increase and that current or emerging crop nutrient technologies provide effective options for doing so.

The major accomplishments for which Dr. Cassman was named the 2004 IFA International Crop Nutrient Laureate include:

Increasing yields and fertilizer use efficiency of irrigated rice in Asia. Because rice systems account for the majority of nitrogen fertilizer use in Asia, enhancing N fertilizer use efficiency in Asia has a substantial positive impact on water quality and emissions of greenhouses gases.
Improving the basic understanding of cotton potassium requirements and translating this into better nutrient management at farm level. This work has helped researchers and extension workers identify and correct K deficiency in Australia, Brazil, Egypt, India, South Africa, the United States and Zimbabwe.
Documenting the critical role of fertilizers, proactive nutrient management and soil quality maintenance as essential components of sustainable agriculture and global food security.
Dr. Cassman's contributions have been enduring. The work he started ten years ago on irrigated rice yields in Asia was the forerunner of the Reaching Towards Optimum Productivity project that IFA continues to support. His history of cooperation with extension-oriented researchers has ensured rapid dissemination of project results to leaders of national research and extension organizations, farmers and industry. As well as being widely published in scientific journals, he is frequently interviewed by farm press magazines and contributes to fertilizer industry-related publications.

Dr. Cassman is currently the Head of the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska (United States). He earned his Ph.D. and Master's Degree in agronomy and soil science (1979 and 1977 respectively) from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA after graduating from the University of California-San Diego with a biology major. He is a member of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA)/Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)/Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the International Union of Soil Sciences. He is also active in the Council for Agriculture, Science, and Technology (CAST) as well as the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is currently serving as a Lead Coordinating Author of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (on "Cultivated Systems, Conditions and Trends") and is a member of the Science and Policy Program Committee of the Third International Nitrogen Conference to be held in October 2004 in China.

Dr. Cassman was nominated for this honour by IMC Global, an IFA member based in the United States.