VFRC Publications - Page 19

1. Fertilizer production. The industry is continuously improving the production efficiency from mining or industrial processing in order to contain costs. With increased exploitation of lower-grade ore containing more pollutants, there arises the need for additional attention and investment in extraction and processing technologies. 5. Plant physiology. Novel packaging of nutrients as micro- or nano-particles (coined “micnobits”) or in organic carriers and their delivery not only to roots but through leaves, stem, fruits or seeds must be based on prevailing uptake mechanisms and physiological processes, and they must achieve supply-demand synchrony for maximal use efficiency. 2. (Application) Technologies. Practicing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship to apply the Right fertilizer source, at the Right place, with the Right amount and at the Right time is promoted to reduce losses. A wide range of practical interventions like precision application, deep placement, row application and also coating of fertilizers for slow release has been pursued in the 4R framework over the past decades and reveal improvements. Yet, overall progress appears insufficient toward a sustainable production base. 6. Soil-plant relations. Understanding of interactive plant-soilmicrobe-water-nutrient processes will guide the search pathway for fertilizer products that deliver nutrients in the required form, amount and time to plants, aiming to feed the plant, rather than the soil, as instantaneously as possible. 7. Plant traits. So far, plant breeding has mainly emphasized increases in yield potential, and, more recently, on crop stress tolerance like resistance against pests and diseases as well as tolerance to drought. There has been some focus on root architecture and nutrient uptake efficiency by roots, but little attention has been paid to nutrient absorption by other plant organs and to the mechanisms to absorb and metabolize nutrients that are not supplied via the soil. Such novel and more effective fertilizer delivery systems can be devised from increased insights in plant physiology and agronomy that may entail the development of new plant varieties. 3. Assessments & diagnostics. Soil and plant diagnostic tools, including ex-ante geo-spatial analyses of fertilizer requirements, support fine-tuning of the 4R dimensions. Quantitative spatialtemporal models will support decision-making by farmers, entrepreneurs and policymakers at various scales. Combined with experimental fertilizer trials, we may accurately capture the geospatial variability in crop nutrient requirements at both a field and a regional scale, and guide marketing, delivery of customized fertilizers and policy regulations. 4. Recycl [