Nitrogen (N) is fundamental to the growth and reproduction of every living creature. It naturally dominates the gases in the air that we breathe (along with oxygen), enables us to grow food—both vegetable and animal—for human nutrition, and it provides many other beneficial uses and resources for society. Fertilizer N makes it possible to provide abundant, safe and nutritious food that sustains the human family; at least half of the people on Earth owe their daily existence to fertilizer N use.

More and more farmers in the U.S. are using fertilizer N more efficiently and effectively than their forefathers, by implementing 4R Nutrient Stewardship in their crop production and soil and water conservation plans. Most farmers are striving to achieve more production on the same or less land area, with only modest increases or similar rates of N as used in the past five to 10 years. On-going changes in crop varieties and hybrids, reduced tillage practices, improved irrigation management, modern farm equipment, computer-based and GPS-capable tools, and newer fertilizer technologies make farming more complicated than in the past. The science on the wise use of these tools and technologies is advancing also, making it more and more challenging for farmers and their advisers to stay current and competitive.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute has developed, and will continue to develop, many useful educational articles and other resources that offer agricultural professionals valuable learning opportunities. General soil fertility and plant nutrition articles like Nutri-Facts, nutrient source articles like Nutrient Source Specifics, and nutrient stewardship articles like Stewardship Specifics are informative and easy to read. More robust crop and site-specific N guidance can be found in regionally oriented Insights articles. Concise research reports are included in quarterly Better Crops articles, which are written by university, government and IPNI scientists. All research supported by IPNI is open to the public and project descriptions and reports are accessible in our on-line research database (for example, see current and past N projects at: Other helpful nutrient management resources are available on-line (, including an IPNI crop nutrient removal software application, which is compatible with all computers and mobile devices.

If you are a crop adviser, agri-business professional, or a farmer striving to keep your soil, fertilizer and crop N knowledge sharp, you may want to hone your educational edge by visiting the IPNI website (, to explore and take advantage of the resources available to you and the rest of the world -- with just a few clicks of the computer mouse.