Our Research Themes: Critical Actions for Sustainable Transformation
While many principles of plant nutrition have been well explored, APNI has identified two themes where major knowledge gaps still hamper progress in Africa: i) Climate and Weather-Smart Plant Nutrition, and ii) Soil Health for Improved Livelihoods. APNI will link these two themes into a third theme of iii) Precision Nutrient Management, which applies concepts of site-specific precision agriculture to plant nutrition.
Theme 1: Climate and Weather-Smart Plant Nutrition
Climate change affects plant nutrition, in part, through increasingly variable weather patterns. APNI will explore the consequences of both slowly changing climate trends and the more frequent weather extremes on farming systems and generate strategies on how farmers can adapt plant nutrient management practices to these novel conditions. These climate insights will then be used to provide guidance on
- how changing weather patterns influence the interactions of crop nutrition and yield, the nutritional quality of food, and soil health;
- adjusting plant nutrition interventions to variation in weather patterns; and
- farm management options for reducing the effect of plant nutrition practices on climate change.
Theme 2: Soil Health for Improved Livelihoods
This theme brings together existing and new knowledge on the impact of plant nutrition on soil health. The potential of plant nutrition to simultaneously boost soil health andcrop quality has not yet been extensively explored. There are many unexploited opportunities for plant nutrition interventions to improve soil health, crop quality, and the nutritional value ofhuman food and livestock feed. However, farmers are unlikely to adopt improved management practices that enhance soil health and crop quality unless there are incentives.
We will also explore how plant nutrients can be managed within healthy agricultural systems and landscapes to sustain yields of more nutritious and better-quality crops. Under this theme, APNI will
- evaluate the role of plant nutrients in enhancing soil health;
- develop business models that provide better livelihoods for farmers from healthy soils and greater crop quality associated with proper plant nutrition; and
- assess how balanced plant nutrition confers benefits through the soil-plant-animal-human health continuum.
Theme 3: Precision Nutrient Management
The precision nutrient management theme brings together knowledge from multiple sources (including those generated in Themes One and Two) to provide African farmers with the capacity, information-management tools, the social and economic environment, and other resources required to provide better nutrition for crops. The requisite research and development for precise nutrient management relies on co-innovation with strategic partners from a wide range of agencies and businesses working together.
Research will provide the knowledge required for the establishment of social, policy, commercial, and technical environments that foster enhanced plant nutrition. This outcome will empower farmers to better manage the source, rate, time, and place of crop nutrition within their specific environmental, social, and economic context. Under this theme, APNI will
- develop protocols and processes for obtaining and analysing information on plant nutrition and its interactions with cropping systems, soil health, crop yield, and product quality;
- generate data according to the FAIR* Guiding Principles;
- implement decision-support systems for precise nutrient management;
- establish networks for scaling knowledge and building capacity in precision nutrient management; and
- identify the reasons for low fertilizer use by farmers to enable changes in policy and infrastructure.
*Fair data meet the standard of being Findable, Accessible, Inter-operable, and Reusable.
- in the power of knowledge to make the world a better place;
- success is achieved by teams, with each member contributing distinct talents and skills;
- our knowledge should be evidence-based and freely shared;
- are committed to a better-fed Africa and a more prosperous rural sector, with none left behind;
- strive for interventions that lead to a healthy, congenial, and productive rural environment;
- know that without improved plant nutrition, African agriculture will lag the rest of the world;
- respect the opinions and beliefs of partners, so that together we can reach our common goals;
- depend on the wisdom and knowledge of others;
- learn from our experience and interaction with others;
- do not tell others what to do, rather help them make informed decisions;
- embrace FAIR data management policies and offer access to data from our research and development activities;
- are a service-oriented organization, working with partners to make farmers more prosperous; and
- maintain high ethics and professional standards in all that we do.