Technology Advances in Agricultural Production, Water and Nutrient Management - Training

Join Us in the United States | August 20 – August 31, 2018 | Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

About the Training


By 2050, the global population is projected to be nine billion, resulting in a near-doubling of global food and fiber demand. Doubling food and fiber production and sustaining the production at that level are major challenges, but doing so in ways that do not compromise environmental integrity and public health present even greater challenges. Intensification of agriculture through the use of high-yielding crop varieties, fertilization, irrigation and crop protection remain the most likely options to combat these challenges. In the past, the emphasis was on improving potential yield; but today, there is increased emphasis on improving the nutritional value of foods (e.g., protein content in grain, essential amino acids, content of other minerals, etc.), reducing post-harvest losses, improving stress tolerance and/or reducing reliance on chemical crop protection products (CPPs).

Recently, there have been enormous advances in agricultural production, not only improving productivity, but just as importantly, safeguarding the environment. Several systems-research tools relating to information technology have become available for fertilizer management. With the introduction of geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing (RS), farmers can now refine nutrient recommendation and water management models to the site-specific conditions of each field.

Substantial variations in soil properties and nutrient and water availability exist across most fields. Thus, the ability to apply site-specific nutrient and irrigation management to match spatially and temporally variable conditions can increase application efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, while improving yields. Precision farming technologies have now been developed to spatially vary nutrients and water prescriptions within a field based on various information sources (soil properties maps, terrain attributes, remote sensing, yield maps, etc.). Precision agriculture involves the integration of the new technologies (including GIS, GPS and RS) to allow farm producers to manage within field variability to maximize the benefit-cost ratio. Variable rate technology (VRT) available with farm implements, such as fertilizer or CPP applicators and yield monitors, has evolved rapidly and has fostered the growth of precision agriculture. For example, in the Midwestern United States, chlorophyll meters, a recent development in agriculture, are used for corrective nitrogen (N) management where N fertilizers are applied based only on crop needs to ensure increases in fertilizer use efficiency and return on fertilizer investment.

In-season prediction of crop yield potential using models is becoming available for cereals. This technique offers possibilities for real-time nutrient and water management in prescriptive and/or corrective concepts. The models are based on a quantitative understanding of underlying processes and integrate the effects of soil, weather, crop, pests and management factors on growth and yield.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, nearly 40 percent of the world’s food is produced by irrigated agriculture, which covers about 250 million hectares (corresponding to 17 percent of total arable land) and is the major user of fresh water, accounting for 70 percent (on average, and up to 90 percent in many countries) of worldwide water taken up for human use. Since high-quality irrigation water is becoming increasingly scarce, it is becoming more important to use available water efficiently. One approach being adopted to overcome this constraint is the use of soil moisture sensors to control irrigation. Soil moisture sensors can detect when the substrate water content drops below a grower-defined set point and can be used to automatically turn on the irrigation when needed.

These emerging technologies are ushering in a new era that will affect farmers’ day-to-day operations and improve their ability to compete in the global market. These innovations will also contribute to increased agricultural productivity and transformation of agribusiness infrastructure. Many of these advanced technologies, as well as the concepts and approaches in strategic farming in the U.S., are directly applicable to agricultural production in developing and developed country environments. Therefore, the study tour will provide participants with a unique opportunity to develop their professional skills and at the same time build collaborations.

IFDC is uniquely positioned to stay abreast of the latest technologies related to soil fertility and water management and how they can be applied to developing and developed country agriculture. IFDC has well-established relationships with essentially all public and private sector organizations that impact agricultural production in the U.S. This study tour will allow participants to visit some of these organizations including, but not limited to: farmer cooperatives; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Monsanto; The Fertilizer Institute; research and education centers of major agricultural colleges and universities; and many large- and small-scale farmers. Interactions with these entities will provide the participants with an opportunity to see how farmers, agribusinesses and policymakers are adjusting to today’s agriculture challenges in ways that ensure agriculture in the United States remains competitive on a global scale. While in the Midwestern U.S., participants will be offered the unique opportunity to visit the Farm Progress Show, which is the largest outdoor farm show in U.S. agriculture and features the most extensive state-of-the-art farm equipment and information and technology available for today’s agricultural producers.

Training Program Content


This workshop is designed for innovative farmers, agronomists, soil scientists, researchers and extensionists from national and international agricultural research institutes and universities, as well as

policymakers from governments and ministries in charge of agricultural productivity and planning. Executives and managers of fertilizer and agricultural input organizations will find this program extremely interesting. Government officials involved in developing strategies for increased agricultural production through the use of emerging technologies that promote resource conservation and increased efficiencies should also benefit from the program. Participants should be fluent in English.

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