IFA’s science program
IFA’s science program focuses on global and regional issues that are critical for the sustainability-driven transformation of the fertilizer industry. The New Paradigm for Responsible Plant Nutrition provides the overall framework for our science program. We support collaborative research in two main areas:
Research area 1: The role of fertilizers in feeding the world sustainably.
Questions that interest us there include: (1) How much do fertilizers contribute to feeding the world, to agricultural productivity growth, and to sparing natural ecosystems from conversion to farming?; (2) How can we achieve future growth in crop production and better human nutrition with globally more balanced and more efficient nutrient use?; (3) What are realistic targets and roadmaps for sustainable nutrient use in different countries?; and (4) How can targeted enrichment of fertilizers with micronutrients such as zinc, selenium or iodine help alleviating micronutrient deficiencies in humans?
Research area 2: Climate change and soil health.
Questions that interest us there include: (1) What are innovative technologies, practices, policies and adoption models for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions at the field level, which are often referred to as Scope 3 emissions?; (2) What is the role of nutrients in carbon farming?; and (3) What are proven management practices that enhance soil health in different crop production regions of the world?
Improving global data resources on all aspects of nutrient use and making them openly and widely available underpins all our scientific activities. We have launched two special initiatives on that in collaboration with many other organizations:
Consortium for Precision Crop Nutrition (CPCN) .
Sharing of agronomic data and other know-how is often poor and there is little open innovation in developing digital tools for making better crop nutrition decisions. Many apps and digital platforms exist, but only few have resulted in scalable, sustainable business solutions. The CPCN is a public-private innovation community open to anyone who wishes to contribute to accelerating data sharing and innovation. Data sharing is facilitated through cropnutrientdata.net, which provides freely available thematic databases for researchers and agriculture professionals to access and contribute field trial data.
Global nutrient budget database .
A global Cropland Nutrient Budget database was released through FAO and IFA in November 2022. This database is the result of close collaboration of researchers from FAO, IFA and various universities and research institutes worldwide. It provides estimates of nutrient input-output budgets as well as nutrient use efficiencies of N, P and K by countries, for the period 1961-2020. The database serves as a global reference database. Subsequent annual releases will provide further improvements in critical underlying data.