Handbook offers effective nutrient management guidance

Soil health guidance encourages farmers to achieve triple win of productivity, resilience and sustainability.

A brand new handbook detailing the best ways to effectively manage nutrients on farms has been released in an effort to help farmers achieve the triple win of boosting productivity, achieving resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The new 25-page manual was co-published by the International Fertilizer Assn. (IFA), the World Farmers Organization (WFO) and the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. It analyzes different methods of crop nutrition and provides farmers with useful and straightforward information on how to manage nutrients efficiently. The techniques have been proved to improve soil health in the face of climate change while meeting Sustainable Development Goal #2 to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

The handbook answers critical questions such as:

  • Which nutrients are essential for plant growth?
  • Are organic or mineral fertilizers more effective?
  • What are the challenges of nutrient management, and how can they be tackled?
  • How does water interact with plant nutrients?
  • How can farmers apply the principles of integrated soil fertility management in a way that will lead to a “climate-smart agriculture”?

Best management practices for farmers and effective nutrient stewardship guiding principles are outlined as central themes throughout the handbook.

Charlotte Hebebrand, director general of IFA, said, “The global fertilizer industry is committed to working with farmers both large and small to help them improve nutrient uptake and, therefore, reduce environmental losses. The '4R Principles' of nutrient management - using the ‘right nutrient source’ at the ‘right rate,’ at the ‘right time’ and in the ‘right place’ - form the foundation of this task and are explained at length in this new guide.”

The handbook also helps farmers establish a direct link between efficient nutrient management techniques and strategies to both mitigate and adapt to changing climatic conditions.

“The world’s farmers are on the front line of tremendous challenges threatening the agricultural sector in the 21st century,” WFO secretary general Marco Marzano de Marinis said. “A steep rise in the demand for food to feed a growing world population, price volatility, changing diets and the negative effects of climate change will have dramatic effects on the world’s agricultural farmlands and markets. This comprehensive, easy-to-use tool helps farmers and extension trainers to understand the positive results of converting their farming practices to climate-smart agriculture.”

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