Food for thought on the complexity of soil chemistry


(Continued from the News page)


Whereas the scientific foundation is yet to be firmly established, these results suggest that, rather than absolute levels of nutrients present in the soil, it is their proportion expressed as ratios that impacts on crop yield. These ratios are particularly important among the basic cations (Ca, Mg and K), between P and micronutrients, and among the micronutrients themselves. Such ratios reflect antagonistic and synergistic effects between nutrients in soil availability and uptake by plants and can dramatically affect crop yield. It is therefore essential to include all essential nutrients, including micronutrients, in agronomic and fertilizer research and from there develop appropriate and low-dose fertilizer technologies that are finely tuned to local soil chemical properties. Such technologies, because they are likely to be cheap and, consequently, affordable, can have large yield impacts and result in higher fertilizer uptake efficiency. Achieving impactful fertilizer interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa thus requires a change in mind-set and research methods and practice.


Citation: R.L. Voortman and P.S. Bindraban (2015)  Beyond N and P: Toward a Land Resource Ecology Perspective and Impactful Fertilizer Interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. VFRC Report 2015/1. Virtual Fertilizer Research Center, Washington D.C., 49 pp.


The full report is available on the website of the VFRC (link).


The VFRC is a research initiative that fosters the creation of the next generation of fertilizers and production technologies to help feed the world’s growing population and provide sustainable increases in global food production, and this global issue requires a global solution. The VFRC comprises the work of multiple research institutions around the world cooperating to advance a unified research agenda.