VFRC Publications - Page 24

Diagnostics Fertilizer adulteration can be a malpractice or unconscious occurrence in the multiple blending steps in the fertilizer chain, resulting in lack of crop response, causing mistrust in the use of fertilizers by farmers, and it may even lead to soil and crop damage and pollution. VFRC therefore initiated the development of a quick tool, but the speed, accuracy and affordability of the methodology should be improved.32 Fertilization strategies should be location-specific to be effective and to inform decisionmaking by farmers, entrepreneurs and policymakers at various scales. VFRC engaged in the development of an agronomic database for systematic compilation of the thousands of on-farm trials carried out by IFDC for geo-statistical processing and dissemination of the farm field and soil data.31 Protocols An increasing number of enterprises offer nutrient-containing products, coatings and bio-stimulants in the market. This flow of novel products will surge because of the environmental awareness and need for increased recycling, creating business opportunities. However, the validity of the claims, from enhancing seed emergence, plant growth and development and improving crop health to resistance/tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, may not have been verified and thus could lead to unrealistic expectations and consumer dissatisfaction. The complexity of plant-nutrient uptake processes may cause products to be effective only under specific crop and environmental conditions. Thus, predicting their behavior for other conditions may not be possible when their functional mechanisms are not known; this may hamper widespread use of such products. Understanding their functional mechanisms may guide toward products and practices that can be applied more generically or for targeting specific conditions only. Normative research that sets standards and protocols for scientific scrutiny and evaluations to unravel the functional mechanisms ought to guide the entry of fertilizer products into the market. These insights can also help fast-track the search for more efficient fertilizer. Geospatial database training in Rwanda, February 2015. Measurement of soil nutrient content has long been in practice and has proven to be effective to some degree for major nutrients like N, P and K. However, the validity of this approach remains to be proven for micronutrients. The importance of instant affordable measurements has become increasingly prominent for specific and timely targeting to prevailing farm-field conditions. To this end, VFRC is involved in assessing the robustness of quick tools to measure soil and plant physico-chemical properties. 20