The mandate of IPNI is not research, it is to develop and promote scientific information for responsible management of plant nutrition. Research is a strategy IPNI employs if the knowledge needed to advance nutrient stewardship in a specific situation does not already exist. IPNI does little research itself. It has no laboratories or experiment stations. The IPNI research program operates by providing financial support, technical assistance, and partnerships with numerous collaborators around the world. Through its extensive network of public and private sector scientists and change leaders, it connects the researcher with other researchers and those that can benefit most from the research conducted.
At any one time, IPNI is involved with from 140 to 190 research projects around the world where one project may have numerous field locations. The nutrient emphasis is on N, P and K since these are the nutrients most often found limiting in crop production systems, however, around 10% of the projects are focused on other nutrients. The topical breakdown is shown in the pie chart. A common thread running through the projects is 4R Nutrient Stewardship – application of the right nutrient source at the right rate, time and place.
The cost of research projects IPNI is involved with exceeds $10 million annually. Funding from sources external to IPNI and its member companies typically accounts for 75 to 80% of the total cost. This illustrates the highly collaborative nature of IPNI’s research effort. External sources include national, state or provincial governments, universities, NGOs, commodity groups and non-IPNI companies.
The majority of IPNI research projects are developed and managed by IPNI’s regional scientists around the world and focused on knowledge gaps in each region. However, a few multi-regional or global projects exist that are coordinated through IPNI Working Groups and the Director of Research. Two such projects are Nutrient Expert and Global Maize.
Nutrient Expert. Nutrient Expert is a decision support tool developed with the goal of supporting advisers who make fertilizer recommendations to farmers, especially when soil test information is unavailable. It uses site-specific nutrient management principles and the Quantitative Evaluation of the Fertility of Tropical Soils (QUEFTS) model to predict crop nutrient uptake requirements. The core of the fertilizer recommendation method is a set of regional databases containing data on nutrient uptake, yield response, and agronomic efficiency (AE). Filling those databases and conducting verification trials are the primary thrusts of current research on Nutrient Expert.
Global Maize. The objectives of the long-term Global Maize Project are to 1) Test how the performance of an ecological intensification system compares to that of current farmer practice (FP), 2) Estimate the exploitable yield gap using the Hybrid Maize simulation model, and 3) Provide data needed to calibrate a nitrogen nutrition model, Maize-N. Studies are occurring at 19 locations across 9 countries. The first sites were initiated in 2009 and planned duration of the project is 10 years.