Integrated Plant Nutrient Management

Integrated Plant Nutrient Management (IPNM)


Fertilizers are in some regions applied in doses and with methods that are far from efficient, and in other areas the lack of fertilizers is still the main constraint to have a higher productivity. Integrated Plant Nutrient Management aims to use nutrients in a more rational way (yield-targeted, site-and soil specific); understanding the interrelation of different nutrients; use combinations of mineral and organic fertilizers; provide nutrients on a cropping-system/rotation basis; and use on-farm and off-farm waste through recycling. Nutrient cycling is an important component of Conservation Agriculture, in which minimum soil disturbance, intercropping, crop rotations and a permanent soil cover minimize the need for chemical fertilizers. Healthy crops are also less susceptible to pests, thus contributing to crop protection (IPM). A better application of nutrients will reduce runoff, and by this benefits the overall ecosystem, including marine areas. FAO is a partner in The Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM), which is a global platform to steer dialogues and actions to promote effective nutrient management.


A vendor displaying fertilizer in his hands in Pakistan. ©FAO/Asim Hafeez

Production efficiencies are gained through nutrient management practices that promote combined use of mineral, organic and biological resources in a reasoned way to balance efficient use of limited/finite resources and ensure ecosystem sustainability against nutrient mining and degradation of soil and water resources. For example, efficient fertilizer use requires that quantities are applied that correspond with the need of crops and that the application method minimizes losses to air and/or water. Options exist for incorporating fertilizer into the soil directly (rather than broadcasting). Equally, split-applications of N-fertilizer commensurate with the plant nutrient status during the growing season should be practiced. The plant nutrient status can be monitored, for example, by using leaf-colour charts.

©FAO/Ahmed Ouoba

FAO and the EU Food Facility in Pakistan