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.