Why do we need a new approach to crop nutrion?


Since late 1800 synthetic fertilisers are being used by agriculture. Basically, these fertilisers are combinations of salts providing a limited range of nutritive elements to plants. However, at the onset of their use, synthetic fertilisers gave nearly linear positive reactions on plant growth and production thus providing means to increase food and fodder production tremendously by using more and more fertilisers on increasing areas of land. This upward trend of fertiliser-use still progresses, especially for Nitrogen as can be seen from below example derived from FAO data on Brazil in-between 2002 and 2017 (see Graph).

As research has shown, there is a limit to what crops can take-up and use in terms of nutrients. This means that applying more and more of a nutrient will not further increase production but instead will accelerate the deterioration of soils and the environment.

Below graph (FAO) shows Brazilian cereal production over the same period as in the previous graph. The relative increase in cereal production from 2002 tot 2017 was 132% while the relative increase in nitrogen use was 162%. In other words, during the last 15 years Brazilian farmers saw an average yearly decrease of their nitrogen use efficiency (amount of N used per kg of production) of 2%. The sad conclusion from these data is that by increasing production the farmer reduces his ROI of nitrogen fertilisers and the environmental pollution also increases. Hence, in order to save our soils and farmers we definitively have to reverse this trend.

For above reasons (among others), we need a new way of thinking based on scientific insights in the interaction between environment, crops, soils and management. Croptivate® is excited to contribute to this new endeavour, so that our children can keep on producing their food.