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.
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.
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.
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.
IPNI director Dr. Steve Phillips organizes the scientific portion of The InfoAg Conference, The Premier Event in Precision Agriculture, which takes place in St. Louis, Missouri. Crafting the agenda requires a lot of planning and an understanding of emerging agronomy topics.
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.
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.
The Frontiers of Potassium conference will be held January 25-27, 2017, in Rome, Italy.
The call for papers is open. The deadline for short abstract submissions is October 1, 2016.
For more details, visit the conference website.