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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Plant Sciences

UC Davis

Maximizing (Productivity and Efficiency) in Contemporary Agriculture


A unique feature of the International Plant Nutrition Colloquium is the range in scale of the sub-disciplines represented, from nanometers to global. Perhaps never in history has the Colloquium’s capacity to exploit this cross-cutting of scales been more important than it is today. Arguably, the single most important challenge for the field of plant nutrition is to contribute all it can to improving global productivity while at the same time increasing resource use efficiency. The global character of the demand for agricultural products and many of the most critical environmental issues creates a tight linkage between improving productivity and minimizing environmental impact. Sustainably meeting this challenge will require close cooperation and understanding among disciplines, across geographies, and between public and private sectors. Three concepts are offered that may facilitate this interaction. • The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Framework: Application of the right nutrient source, at the right rate, right time, and right place is a concept that when seen within a framework connecting practices to on-farm objectives and sustainability goals, along with critical performance indicators, can help keep individuals working on “parts” cognizant of the “whole”. • Mainstreaming of Simulation Models: Models recently developed can help identify unrealized yield potential and better manage the growing uncertainty of weather and climate. • Global Data Networks: More extensive exploitation of electronic technology that facilitates global data collection, sharing, analysis, and use could expedite the acquisition and application of agronomic and plant nutrition knowledge.

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