Boosting human nutrition with fertilizer

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

In discussions about using fertilizers and various plant nutrients, the entire purpose of using these materials is too frequently overlooked. All of the effort that goes into acquiring, transporting, applying, and managing these valuable resources is for the primary goal of growing healthy and abundant crops for humans and animals.

Removing crop products from the field extracts nutrients from the field. The harvested products may be used for things such as blue jeans, biodiesel, animal feed, or eaten directly by people. It becomes necessary to replenish the soil as the nutrient reservoir becomes gradually depleted. Some of the goals of productive agriculture include:

Food security—
refers to having access to adequate food, without fear of hunger or starvation. Commercial fertilizers are estimated to support over half of the current global food production and clearly have a vital role in meeting the goal of food security for everyone.

Nutrition security—
means having access to adequate food components for human nutritional needs. Many of the healthful components of food are boosted by the application of fertilizer (such as protein, carbohydrates, oil, vitamins, and minerals). This security involves access to nutritional food and making wise dietary choices.

Micronutrient nutrition—
is increasingly important in many parts of the world as human diets in many less-developed countries have shifted towards greater consumption of “staple” cereal crops (such as corn, wheat and rice). The yield of many micronutrient-rich crops (such as various beans, fruits and vegetables) has not benefited as much from the Green Revolution, and these foods now comprise a smaller proportion of the diet of the world’s poor­est people.

A variety of practices are being used to boost the nutritional value of crop plants. This includes improved agronomic practices to achieve “biofortification” with minerals such as zinc (Zn), selenium (Se), and iodine (I). Genetic approaches are effective in boosting the concentration of iron (Fe) and vitamins in plants.

Some recent scientific papers indicate that there may have been a decline in the nutrient concentration of some vegetables during the last 50 to 100 years. This is likely due to the well known “dilution effect”, where higher-yielding and larger plants may take up the same quantity of nutrients from the soil. This results in an apparent dilution of the mineral concentration in the harvested crop.

To a large extent, the supply of soluble plant nutrients in the soil determines the composition of the plant. Crops grown in nutrient-deficient soils will likely have low yield and may have poor nutritional qualities for humans and animals. Adding the appropriate plant nutrients to soil supports high yields, and also sustains the essential nutritional food properties. Without the proper nutrients, plants cannot possibly provide an adequate and nutritional food source for people.

IPNI has recently published a comprehensive scientific review of this topic, which can be downloaded for free at:

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (1) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

k s sandhu    
india  |  August, 15, 2013 at 09:53 PM

Apart from insuring adequate nutrient supplies,soil health in terms of soil pH,organic carbon and adequate water supplies will be very much helpful in producing nutrient rich and healthy food crops.

Pacesetter Grain Hopper

The Pacesetter Gain Hopper features original and innovative ideas like the patented RollerTrap™, the industry’s easiest to open and maintain trap ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form