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IFS Technical Conference 2017
29 Jun 2017 - 30 Jun 2017
The 2017 IFS Agronomic Conference
7 Dec 2017 - 8 Dec 2017
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The Brian Chambers International Award for early career researchers in crop nutrition

Organised by the International Fertiliser Society, a new award scheme for researchers working at the M.Sc or Ph.D levels, or equivalent, who can demonstrate how their work will provide practical benefits to farm crop nutrition.

The Brian Chambers award, organised and funded by the IFS, was launched in 2015 (information about the 2015 entrants and winners), with a cash prize of £1,000 for the winner, plus £500 each for two runners-up. 

In 2016 it was again run successfully, attracting a strong and varied selection of entries. The international nature of the competition was underlined by entries from Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Slovenia, South Africa, the USA, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.  It was very pleasing that several of the finalists were able to come to the conference.

The judges found the task of selecting the three winners to be just as challenging as was teh case in 2015. Eventually, however they concluded that the research that justified winning the first prize was by Andreas Carstensen, a PhD student at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.  His entry described the development of a new hand held sensor to detect phosphorus deficiency in field crops. His poster can be viewed here.

A short interview with Andreas about his research has been recorded. To hear this, click on the small white 'play' triangle at the top of the new screen that will appear.

There were also two runner up entries, that were awarded £500 each.  The first of these was from Lotte Woittiez, from Wageningen University, Netherlands, who is studying poorly balanced plant nutrition in palm oil farming. An interview with Lotte about her research will be recorded when she returns from carrying out field work in Indonesia. Poster.

A short interterview with Lotte has also been recorded. To hear this, click on the small white 'play' triangle at the top of the new screen that will appear.

The second runner up was Matthias Westershulte, from Osnabruck University Germany, who is studying nitrogen dynamics following slurry injection in maize. A short interview with Matthias will be recorded once he has met a pressing submission deadline! Poster


The Brian Chambers award will be run again in 2017. Submissions will be invited from researchers in all countries; attending our Conference in the UK will be unnecessary. As in 2016 entries will be welcome from researchers working in both academic and extension organisations.

The 2017 award will open for submissions in July, and will remain open until 15 September 2017.

Participation in the award will be open to the following people:

  • Anyone carrying out relevant research work at an MSc, PhD or equivalent level of scientific rigour.
  • Researchers and workers at the interface of research, development and extension, from all countries.
  • People whose work has either been completed, or at an advanced stage of research study. Work that has not yet been started will not qualify.
  • People whose research activity is based on field, controlled environment or laboratory studies, modelling work, or other data analysis.
  • People whose research applies to the nutrition of arable and horticultural crops, grassland, permanent crops such as fruit trees, and other perennial crops, covering all types of plant nutrients and nutrient dynamics in soils or growth media.
  • People who have either completed their last academic qualification (MSc or PhD) within four years, OR who have been undertaking relevant professional work for up to seven years.

Qualifying research activity must either have been completed, or be at an advanced stage of study.

Submission requirements:

  • Participants will be required to submit a 1 page abstract of their working, using our pro-forma, explaining how they consider it meets the evaluation criteria.
  • The ten submissions that the award evaluation panel consider to be the strongest will be invited to produce a poster detailing their work. ( Download the pdf for detailed guidance on poster format.)
  • All ten posters will be displayed at the IFS Agronomic Conference and the winners will be selected by the evaluation panel.
  • Attendance at the Agronomic Conference will be free to participants showing posters, but anyone unable to attend the Conference can send us their poster in digital format and we will print and display it for them.

The evaluation criteria that will be used to judge award entries are:

  • Novelty / distinctiveness of approach (Is the methodology novel in being integrative and/or bringing together approaches from different disciplines?).
  • Novelty / distinctiveness of results (Is there a clear conclusion and has this information generated new knowledge or provided a solution to advance the science or practical management in the area?).
  • Scientific soundness / rigour (Are the experimental design, measurement approach, data collection and statistical methodology appropriate?).
  • Practical relevance (Are the results or approaches not just novel and sound scientifically, but will the outcome have any relevance/practical application for farmers or for society as a whole?).
  • Comprehensiveness (Does the abstract / poster attempt to quantify and show the trade off(s) between (i) yield benefits/loss, (ii) the costs/gains of the 'implementational actions needed' and (iii) the environmental loss/benefits?)
  • Clarity and conciseness of both the abstract and poster.
  • The look and structure of the poster (Is the poster able to attract attention from people and does it convey the major message by finding the right balance between completeness and the time needed to digest the contents?) This criteria applies to the finalists only.

Benefits of participation

In addition to the cash prizes for the three submissions judged to best meet the award criteria, the participants who go through to the second stage will also benefit from having their work viewed by the Conference delegates.  In addition all the posters will be displayed on the IFS website.  Depending on the topic and practical considerations, we may also invite the winner to present a paper at a future IFS Conference.

For further information, please contact the IFS Secretary:

0044 (0)1206 851 819

PO Box 12220   Colchester   CO1 9PR   UK


Brian Chambers and the International Fertiliser Society

This award commemorates Professor Brian Chambers, who died in 2014. Brian was Head of the Soils and Nutrient Group at ADAS, and a Council Member of the International Fertiliser Society. Having published over 300 scientific papers, Brian was internationally renowned for his pioneering research on manure management and the minimisation of environmental pollution.

He also played an important role in the European and UK Soil Science community serving as President and Fellow of the Institute of Professional Soil Scientists (IPSS), visiting Professor at Cranfield University, a member of British Society of Soil Science, and the International RAMIRAN Network.

Brian and his work is being remembered by the creation of two different but complementary initiatives: the UK focused Brian Chambers Soils Fund the IFS International Award.  Both reflect Brian's interest in encouraging young people to enter this important and rewarding area.

The International Fertiliser Society is a scientific Society founded in 1947, with members from about 50 countries worldwide.  Its main objectives are:

To provide an international forum for discussion and dissemination of knowledge of scientific, technical, environmental, economic and safety aspects of the production, marketing, use and application of fertilisers.

The IFS provides professionals working in fertiliser production and crop nutrition with a unique combination of :

  • Technically and scientifically rigorous information
  • Independent of any commercial or political bias
  • Preferential access to our unique archive of Proceedings
  • Opportunities to network with other fertiliser professionals