At the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America annual meeting Tuesday, International Plant Nutrition Institute President Dr. Terry Roberts explained the key role that fertilizers play in supporting global food security.
With about one-sixth of the world's people are chronically hungry, competing and increasing requirements for food, feed, and biofuels necessitate a future cereal production increase of 70% by 2050. Expansion of harvested area and increasing crop productivity are the only options available for increasing food production, with the latter being the most important.
"Fertilizer best management practices and nutrient stewardship, based on 4Rs—applying the right source, at the right rate, in the right time, and the right place—provide scientific guidelines and a global framework to ensure fertilizers are used efficiently and effectively in helping the world achieve food security," Roberts said.
Advances in biotechnology, new genetics, improvements in agronomic management, and increased use and management of fertilizers are necessary to significantly increase crop yields. Nutrient sources such as animal manures, green manures, or biological fixation should be used judiciously if available or combined with non-organic nutrient sources.
"It is crucial to remember that commercial fertilizer accounts for 40 to 60% of the world's cereal production and will play a vital role in the future in closing the gap between actual and attainable crop yields," Roberts said.
The annual meeting brings together 4,000 scientists, professionals, educators, and students this week, Oct 21-24.