Keywords: AHDB, RB209, nutrient management, planning.
Accurate crop nutrient management is essential for agricultural and horticultural businesses as well as society. The use of nutrients allows efficient production, but they must be used carefully to minimise the risk of pollution.
In the future, additional regulations are also likely to be imposed to help meet the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (EU Directive 2000/60/EC) and revised National Emissions Ceilings Directive (EU Directive 2001/81/EC). The objectives of these directives, to reduce agricultural diffuse water pollution and ammonia emissions, are admirable but are likely to increase the difficulty of crop nutrient management.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Fertiliser Manual (RB209) is the foundation for crop nutrient management. First published in 1973 as MAFF Reference Book 209, the Fertiliser Manual (RB209) has been revised seven times. It is relied upon both by farmers and their advisers to manage the use of nutrients.
However, although the Fertiliser Manual (RB209) is widely used, its revision to date has been infrequent and unplanned. This has three consequences that jeopardise future production and environmental improvements:
1. Crop nutrient management research and knowledge exchange (KE) in the UK has been uncoordinated.
2. New research has been slow to inform revision of the Fertiliser Manual (RB209).
3. The usefulness and credibility of the Fertiliser Manual (RB209) has been eroded.
This paper describes how an industry wide partnership led by AHDB will co-ordinate the research it funds. The partnership will increase the impact of its research through planned revisions of the Fertiliser Manual (RB209) and the development of digital services.
The benefits of partnership and co-ordination of research funding are wide ranging and are applicable to farmers, growers, their advisors, manufacturers, distributors and governments. In the future the partnership and co-ordination of research funding could be extended beyond the UK to partners in other countries.
James Holmes, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK.
19 pages, 4 figures, 1 table, 13 references