VFRC Publications - Page 12

Another observation that has become apparent over the past decades is the declining quality of food products. In addition to NPK, plants also need smaller amounts of micronutrients that are essential for their growth and health (Table 1). However, fertilizer use has largely often only involved N, P and K, which might have contributed to the decreased nutritional quality of crop produce (Figure 3), due to insufficient availability of micronutrients like zinc, copper, iron, magnesium and the like. Consequently, a more balanced fertilization may contribute to improving soil, plant and human health. Balanced fertilizers containing micronutrients can revert the declining trend in nutritional quality of food. Fertilizers are made by chemists and industrial engineers, following laws of physics and chemistry, to meet physical and chemical property standards that primarily facilitate industrial production processes, handling during transportation, minimizing transport costs of the bulky products and mechanical application. Such chemical packaging of nutrients is often incompatible with the crop’s temporal need for specific nutrients, causing side effects like the acidification of soils, the demise of soil flora and fauna population and activity, or the burning of plant organs exposed to the active agents. Figure 3. Nutritional quality of wheat has declined with increasing yield over the past decades.9 Declines have also been found in fruits and vegetables.10 on an understanding of plant physiological processes related to a demand-based uptake, metabolism, transportation and internal efficiency of nutrients (Figure 4). In addition, edaphic and hydrological attributes of the environment and interactions among nutrients, and between plants and microorganisms, determine nutrient solubility and availability and will alter the plant’s demand and supply requirements. A renewed “biological” focus is, thus, needed in order to arrive at novel ways of packaging and delivering nutrients to plants based A renewed “biological” focus is needed to arrive at novel ways of packaging and delivering nutrients to plants based on an understanding of plant physiological processes related to a demand-based uptake, metabolism, transportation and internal efficiency nutrients. 8