VFRC Publications - Page 7

Perspectives from the Executive Director Human interventions today are so severe that they alter the boundary of our planet beyond safe limits, with severe and unforeseen implications for humans and nature alike. Fertilizers undeniably are one of the main drivers of global change; the fuel for the engines of the improved crop varieties that feed the world today. Fertilizers are a fundamental intervention on all life on earth, as they boost biological growth by continuous injection of reactive nutrients into the biosphere, extracted from inert forms of nutrients from the atmosphere and lithosphere. Prem S. Bindraban Executive Director, VFRC Feeding the world’s population sustainably while simultaneously safeguarding the ecosystem that in turn provides the services for our agricultural systems is a significant challenge. Ecological processes are interlinked, just like the threads of a fishing net, where the entire system moves by pulling one string only. Pulling too hard or in the wrong direction pulls our ecosystem out of balance and sends it into a negative spiral of ecological degradation, pushing the earth into an anthropogenic geological era. There is always an opportunity in every problem, however. The intertwined relations in ecological processes that lead to degradation form, at the same time, the most powerful tool to rebound the process in a positive spiral of improving human well-being and ecosystem health. The prime factor for a paradigm shift in our world of fertilizers will have to be embedded in ecological literacy, allowing us to exploit ecological synergies to minimize human intervention while serving human needs and sustaining our ecosystem. Transforming the world of fertilizers through any solution emerging from our ecological knowledge with significant socio-economic implications will have to be rooted in the minds of multiple actors and stakeholders. Collective actions will be needed at global and local levels, with decisions for strategic, tactical and operational interventions in time and space. Over the past five years, VFRC has set the stage for identifying promising fertilizer products and technologies to bend the curve from degradation toward reaping the benefits from ecological synergy that allows for the enhancement of crop yields, the reduction of losses to the environment and the improvement of human and ecosystem health. The VFRC continues to call upon the research community, industry leaders, policymakers and civil society organizations to join forces and collectively walk these promising paths to serve society and ecology. The intertwined relations in ecological processes that lead to degradation due to human interventions form at the same time the most powerful tool to bend the curve in a positive spiral of ecosystem health and improving human well-being. 3