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IFA Science Awards Winner
06 Mar 2014

Xuhua Zhong

IFA is pleased to recognize Dr. Zhong’s exemplary extension work on nitrogen use efficiency. The recognition of his work is most relevant given the Chinese context in which nitrogen use efficiency improvements have come to the forefront of the sustainable development agenda.

Since the early 1990s, rice production in China was beset with low nitrogen use efficiency resulting in high production cost, low yields, low profits for farmers and negative impacts on the environment. Dr. Zhong, who has been working on rice nutrient management, developed the "three controls" technology: control of fertilizer N input, control of unproductive tillers and control of pest and diseases.

The technology consists of determining the right N fertilizer rate, and applying this at the right time, i.e. splitting the application at key growth stages. The technology also includes determination of the amount and timing of phosphorus and potassium requirements and other crop management measures. With the "three controls" technology, nitrogen recovery efficiency increased from less than 30% for farmer’s practice to 40%.

Farmers can now save on inputs such as fertilizer-N and pesticide sprays and still achieve a 10% increase in grain yield, giving extra income to farmers. The new technology was officially recommended to rice farmers by the Ministry of Agriculture, China.

Dr. Zhong developed numerous innovative materials and tools to make his extension work easier for farmers to take up. The "three controls"technology is web based and has been transposed into leaflets, CDs and videos which are widely used and distributed in many farmer training courses in the provinces, counties, towns and villages. The “three controls” technology is now one of the most widely adopted rice-growing technologies in China.

Dr. Xuhua Zhong is a crop physiologist and is currently the head of the Crop Physiology and Ecology Laboratory at the Rice Research Institute, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He obtained his Ph.D in plant physiology from South China Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Zhong was nominated by Shenzhen Batian Ecotypic Engineering Co., Ltd. and he was selected by an independent selection panel. The laureate will accept his award at the Opening Session of the IFA Annual Conference on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 in Sydney, Australia.