With the continued increase in world population and environmental damage, providing the needed food and fuel becomes a more critical concern which, according to agricultural scientists, can be aided by efficient plant nutrition or nutrient management, a process used by farmers to manage the amount, form, placement, and timing of the application of nutrients which can be found in fertilizers.
Officials from the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), a not-for-profit, science-based organization with a focus on agronomic education and research support, recently visited the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the R&D arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA), to promote R&D on responsible management of plant nutrition for the benefit of farmers.
Dr. Thomas Oberthur, Director, Southeast Asia Program based in Penang, Malaysia, and Dr, Adrian M. Johnston, Vice President and Asia Group Coordinator, based in Saskatoon, Canada represented IPNI to commend the progress of the Site-Specfic Nutrient Management (SSNM) for corn program, a collaborative program of IPNI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) thru DA-BAR and explore other areas where the DA and IPNI can work together.
"We actively disseminate information on best management practices (BMPs) for fertilizer use. We encourage the concept of applying the right product, at the right rate, right time, and right place. The two main crops we are focusing right now are palm oil and maize. We take pride in our available publications such as books and manuals on these," Oberthur said.
"We are only a small organization but we have 30 scientists worldwide with doctoral degrees. Our mandate is to conduct R&D on plant nutrition for farmer's profitability and sustainability. Our goal is to practice ecological intensification of cropping systems," Johnston said.
According to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), ecological intensification optimizes the performance of ecosystem services such as pest and disease regulation, soil fertility, and nutrient cycling, among others.
However, IPNI admitted that they have yet to focus on organic agriculture as they work on nutrients regardless if the source is organic or not.
BAR Director Eleazar and Dr. Gina Nilo of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), part of the TWG on SSNM, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of integrating organic agriculture in nutrient management since this is one of the priority programs of the government.
In the country, the programs on SSNM both for rice and corn has been supported and implemented nationwide to enable farmers to adjust fertilizer use to fill the deficit between the nutrient needs of a high-yielding crop and the nutrient supply from naturally-occurring indigenous sources, including soil, crop residues, manures, and irrigation water.