VFRC Publications - Page 30

Building the VFRC The Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC), established under the auspices of IFDC, is a research initiative that fosters the creation of the next generation of fertilizers and production technologies to help feed the world’s growing population and provide sustainable increases in global food production. The VFRC was conceived as a global solution to a global problem. Globally, there have been no fundamental reflections about the role and functioning of mineral fertilizers over the past five decades or more, and compared to other sectors, very low investments have been made in mineral fertilizer research and development (R&D). The VFRC therefore reflects on current fertilizers and proposes a more deliberate adoption of knowledge of plant physiological processes — including the diversity of mineral nutrient uptake mechanisms, their translocation and metabolism — as an entry point in identifying the physicochemical “packaging” of nutrients, their composition, amount and timing of application to meet plant physiological needs for improved instantaneous uptake. In addition to delivery through the root, we suggest that efforts be redoubled with several other uptake avenues, which as of now are at best haphazard, for the delivery of nutrients to the plant, including above ground parts and seed coating. Furthermore, ecological processes, including nutrient-specific interactions in plant and soil, plant-micro-organism symbiosis and micno-bit technology, have to be exploited to enhance nutrient uptake. Micno-bits are tiny (micro and nano) particles that can enter through conventional uptake channels and can be “devoured” in their entirety through endocytosis by roots and leaves. The uptake of which may come with multiple benefits, certainly when containing micronutrients. The VFRC catalyzes a process in pursuit of concerted R&D efforts to achieve these strategies. Moreover, a team of scientists from multiple disciplines, including fertilizer specialists, plant biologist, soil scientists, agronomists, ICT specialist, nutritionists, medical specialists, chemists, engineers and economists should be engaged in developing and executing the R&D agenda. Conversely, the global solutions will have local ramifications, necessitating expertis