Fertilizers Help Crops Grow, Contribute to Better Health

Published in the January 2013 Issue Published online: Jan 05, 2013
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The use of fertilizers helps crops, such as sugarbeets, and is a benefit to consumers. Courtesy photo.

The International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) have collaborated to produce a new publication titled Fertilizing Crops to Improve Human Health: A Scientific Review. This publication demonstrates the opportunity to leverage fertilizer toward improving the nutrition and health of many vulnerable people around the world, in particular by providing the essential micronutrients and other beneficial compounds that are desperately needed for a healthy life. 

Fertilizer's contribution to food security is better known than its contribution to nutrition security. "While fertilizer has been highly influential in increasing the quantity of food produced, it also holds enormous potential for improving human welfare by improving the quality of food," says Rajul Pandya-Lorch, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). In addition to producing more calories, new research demonstrates that fertilizer can also play an essential role in fighting malnutrition, by providing the essential micronutrients needed by the human body. Micronutrient deficiencies affect the lives of some 2 billion people around the world. 

"We trust that this reference document will provide the necessary scientific basis for developing and promoting new fertilizer recommendations aimed at alleviating the burden of nutrition insecurity and will stimulate further research in this area," writes Dr. Terry Roberts, IPNI President. The book provides compelling examples, such as the use of zinc fertilization in Central Anatolia in Turkey and potassium fertilization to enhance antioxidant concentration in tomatoes and soybeans. 

"The fertilizer industry is conscious that efforts to promote food and nutrition security should be done in the context of improved fertilizer management practices, such as 4R Nutrient Stewardship," adds Luc Maene, IFA Director General. 

This publication was the recent focus of the Symposium on Fertilizing for Crop Qualities that Improve Human Health, held on Oct. 23 in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of the International Meetings of the Tri-Societies of Agronomy, Crop Science and Soil Science. The Symposium brought together selected chapter authors to present their research on linkages between fertilizer use and crop attributes associated with human health.

The peer-reviewed publication is now available in a single hardcopy book form and is comprised of 11 chapters within three themed sections including: 1) Food and Nutrition Security, 2) Functional Foods and 3) Risk Reduction. 

More information concerning this publication can be obtained from IPNI at www.info.ipni.net/FCIHH