NuGIS data contributed to understanding the Lake Erie phosphorus situation

On the banks of the Maumee River in Ohio, Dr. Helen Jarvie of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in the UK explains how IPNI NuGIS data contributed to understanding the Lake Erie phosphorus situation. Loading to Lake Erie of dissolved phosphorus through tributaries like the Maumee has increased since the early 2000s, and the NuGIS nutrient balance data was helpful in confirming that the change was not due to overuse of fertilizer.

In her presentation to the 80 scientists attending the August 2017 SERA17 meeting, she explained how changes in tillage and fertilizer placement may have contributed to the issue, noting that 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices like timing and placement could be of value in mitigation.

To learn more about the Nutrient Use Geographic Information System (NuGIS), click here.
To learn more about the IPNI Phosphorus Program, click here.

IPNI represented at World Congress of Soil Science

Six IPNI scientists presented at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science in Rio de Janeiro. Nutrient use efficiency was a common theme throughout many sessions. In the video below they briefly explain the theme of their presentations, which cover balanced nutrient management, phosphorus placement, Potassium recommendations, and more. Presentations will be posted on our YouTube channel as they become available.

Nutrient Expert tool expands to include more crops, languages

The International Plant Nutrition Institute began developing Nutrient Expert® several years ago to help farmers rapidly generate field-specific fertilizer recommendations, with or without soil testing. Dr. Mira Pampolino, deputy director of IPNI Southeast Asia, says Nutrient Expert (NE) differs from other tools because it’s based on strong science.

“It’s a simple tool that can be used on a mobile device or desktop computer. The Nutrient Expert approach is so robust that it can be easily applied to any crop and geographic location,” said Pampolino.

To date, IPNI has developed 13 field validated versions of NE and 9 beta versions are currently under field validation.

  • NE crops: maize, wheat, rice, soybean, cassava, and potato.
  • NE countries: China, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco.
  • NE languages: English, Chinese, Hindi, Bengali, Tagalog, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and French.

NE empowers people making fertilizer recommendations in the field. The tool enables a field agronomist or adviser to generate recommendations by using readily available site and farm information. In addition, it provides a profit analysis that can help farmers assess the additional income they can gain from following the recommendation and help them decide on their fertilizer investment. The tool works offline so users can make recommendations anywhere and anytime.

The decision support tool continues to expand its reach, with more crops and languages under development. “NE is so popular because it is based on strong science (as documented in many peer-reviewed publications) and it provides an easy way to implement the 4R Nutrient Stewardship concept of applying the right source of nutrients at the right rate, right time, and in the right place,” Pampolino said.

The vigorous science that powers the tool takes into account the important factors affecting nutrient availability and crop performance such as crop variety, soil type/characteristics, previous crop and residual nutrients, crop residue management, farmer’s use of fertilizer inputs and manure, water availability, and climatic conditions. NE also considers the availability of fertilizer materials in the locality as well as the farmer’s capacity to purchase the recommended fertilizer inputs.

NE generates 4R-based recommendations based on the attainable yield for specific growing conditions, but also provides options for adjusting recommendations based on the farmer’s available resources. The tool has been proven effective in increasing farmers’ yields and profits. The tool promotes efficient use of fertilizers and balanced nutrition, which helps protect the environment and sustain the productivity and profitability of farmers’ fields.



IPNI works with researchers, governments, extension agents, and others to educate and train farmers on the benefits of NE. Pampolino receives positive feedback about the tool and many are eager to see it expand into their region and language. “Farmers across Asia and Africa who were trained or exposed to NE are happy with its performance in the field. They have observed the benefits of following NE recommendations in increasing their yield and profit. Through the 4R-based NE recommendation, farmers have come to understand and appreciate the importance of 4R nutrient management,” Pampolino said.



Soybean experiment in Argentina

Soybean is an important global crop, yet productivity is low in many regions. IPNI formed a working group in 2013 to address this issue. Dr. Fernando Garcia recently visited an experimental site in Argentina, where IPNI has partnered with INTA (National Institute of Agricultural Technology) on the project Breaking Soybean Yield Barriers: Integrating Crop Production Practices & Comprehensive Fertilization Strategies – a Cropping System Approach.

Additionally, the working group recently hosted a series of free webinars addressing soybean production challenges. You can view them on our YouTube webinar playlist, or here.

Banana nutrition in Ecuador

Did you know that Ecuador is the largest banana exporter in the world? With about 250,000 ha, the crop is the largest export commodity, second only to oil.

“Depending on previous management and soil conditions, a high yielding banana field could require from 1 to 2.5 t of fertilizer with strong emphasis on potassium. A large harvest can remove about 700 kg of K2O alone,” said Dr. Raul Jaramillo, director of IPNI Northern Latin America. “Other important production regions include Colombia and Costa Rica,” Jaramilla noted.

Jaramillo, with support from regional partners, recently held several nutrition and physiology education sessions in three important banana producing areas: Quevedo, Babahoyo, and Machala.

“IPNI has partnered with researchers in the region to conduct studies on fertilizer use, liming, and soil cover management. We have also produced publications that are very popular and provide training for growers in all banana growing countries,” Jaramillo said.

Banana production requires considerable labor and continuous disease management. The most serious threat to banana production is the potential appearance of Fusarium disease. Efforts are underway in the Americas to prevent the spread of the disease. For more information about our Northern Latin America program, click here.

Dr. Danilo Sanchez, Mrs. Ana Martinez, and Dr. Raul Jaramillo at a banana plantation field visit near the city of Milagro, Guayas, Ecuador.


Precision Ag event in Brazil

Precision Agriculture as a Tool for Fertilizer Best Management Practices

IPNI Brazil organized a successful precision agriculture symposium in Goiânia, Brazil. The 3-day conference drew 350 agronomists, researchers, and technicians, and included more than a dozen presentations. The goal of the event was to address knowledge gaps and discuss ways to optimize the use of precision agriculture tools in Brazil. The symposium is one of many events organized by IPNI Brazil each year. “We are always planning and we love to put knowledge together in the form of symposiums and other events,” said Dr. Luis Prochnow, IPNI Brazil Director.


If you’re looking for resources related to Brazilian agriculture, the program website is an excellent resource. Visitors can subscribe to Jornal Informações Agronômicas, access webinars, publications, and tools.

Regional K conference held in India

Our South Asia program held the first of several regional K conferences as a follow up to our well attended international K conference held earlier this year in Rome. The two-day conference, Advances in Potassium Research for Efficient Soil and Crop Management, was held in New Delhi and brought together 165 national and international delegates representing India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, UK, Australia, Germany, USA, and Jordan.

“The goal of the conference was to initiate dialogue between policy makers, scientists, the fertilizer industry, and public and private extension specialists to improve K fertilizer management in the region,” said Dr. T. Satyanarayana, South Asia program director.

Discussions from the conference reveal there is an immense need to identify the new dimensions of potassium research for improving crop yields and farm profitability, while improving soil fertility of the region. To learn more about our work in the region, check out the latest International Fertilizer Association (IFA) Expert Blog post, which features a Q & A with Dr. Satyanarayana.

Reducing P loss in Lake Erie

SERA-17 is a group of scientists, educators, policy makers, and extension personnel collaborating to reduce phosphorus loss from agriculture. I visited their conference and tagged along on a boat and field tour for an update on the research project. The project is supported by the 4R Research Fund and includes efforts to educate farmers on the benefits of implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices to help reduce phosphorus runoff. Dr. Tom Bruulsema provides a quick overview of the group’s goal. To learn more about our work in the Lake Erie region click here. Warning: we’re on a boat.

Mobile app supports 4R training

IPNI’s Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) program developed a mobile app to help train extension agents on 4R Nutrient Stewardship. The app enables SSA staff to reach more extension agents and reduce travel costs. “Instead of our two facilitators traveling around the country for three day workshops, we can offer training from our office,” said Dr. Shamie Zingore, SSA director. “It also allows us to reach extension agents who are not able to travel to our training workshops,” Zingore noted.

Dr. Shamie Zingore

The SSA program has received positive feedback from users. “The first group to use the app found it innovative because of the way it guides you through the 4R concepts and reinforces learning through modules with practical examples,” said Zingore. They also appreciate its ease of use and flexibility to complete the courses.

Zingore noticed increased interest in learning and attentiveness by extension agents when using the app, compared to traditional workshops. The app is linked to a database that enables staff to monitor modules that users find difficult to understand. “This gives us the advantage of offering personalized training support, depending on the knowledge level of the user,” Zingore said.

Based on the success of the 4R mobile app, the SSA program is exploring ways to integrate the app with tools to capture information in the field, monitor nutrient deficiencies, and provide management solutions during the growing season. Learn more about the SSA program here.