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Global quest to tackle potassium deficiency in crops
Nebraska Ag Connection - 11/17/2023

In a significant move to enhance global crop yields, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the International Fertilizer Association (IFA) have embarked on a pivotal two-year project. This initiative is set to bridge the knowledge gap regarding the extent and severity of potassium deficiency in various cropping systems worldwide.

Potassium, a crucial nutrient for plant growth, is often deficient in many agricultural regions, adversely affecting crop yields. This project, by compiling a comprehensive global inventory of potassium data, aims to provide countries with crucial insights to tackle these deficiencies effectively.

Prof. Patricio Grassini from Nebraska, a leading figure in this project, emphasizes the importance of this collaboration for improving crop production through enhanced nutrient management and tailored fertilizer recommendations. The project's outcomes are expected to benefit a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from farmers and researchers to policymakers and the agri-food sector.

Walter Carciochi is leading a project to gather data on potassium deficiencies in cropping systems across South and North America, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The project will use nutrient balances, soil and plant analyses, and omission trials to identify potassium as a limiting factor.

One innovative approach under consideration is the development of a "traffic light" guidance strategy, providing a visual representation of potassium deficiency levels across different countries or regions.

The initiative also receives substantial backing from the fertilizer industry, with seven major companies supporting the research. This backing underscore the industry's role not just in addressing agronomic challenges but also in exploring new market opportunities.

Dr. Achim Dobermann, co-principal lead of the project and a chief scientist with IFA, highlights the dual nature of this initiative: advancing global crop yields and identifying new potassium markets.

As the project progresses, Researchers are developing a thematic database on potassium in crop production, which will be accessible via the Crop Nutrient Data platform, to aid in understanding and overcoming potassium-related challenges in crop production.

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