The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is joining the Efficient Fertilizer Consortium, an industry-oriented initiative established by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) to develop and validate more efficient, environmentally beneficial and cost-effective fertilizers and management practices. This announcement was made during the UK-chaired Agriculture Breakthrough Ministerial event at the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) Summit in Washington, D.C., further highlighting the need for agriculture research that can mitigate emissions, facilitate adaptation and promote environmental benefits.
“Our global food systems are under increasing pressure, from the devastating impacts of climate change as well as from the turmoil created by Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. We need collaboration, innovation and ambition to tackle these challenges, and today’s AIM for Climate Summit and Agriculture Breakthrough Ministerial Meeting have demonstrated the possibilities – we now need investment in research and development, and a laser-like focus on deployment and delivery,” said FCDO Minister for Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan. “That’s why the UK is committing £3 million [$3.76 million] to the Global Fertilizer Challenge, to develop new, more efficient fertilizers to transform productivity and safeguard nature. With the U.S. and FFAR, we will accelerate the pace and scale of agriculture innovation and the adoption of climate-resilient agriculture solutions.”
The Consortium is part of the Global Fertilizer Challenge, an effort to increase global attention to the importance of fertilizer use efficiency. President Biden launched The Global Fertilizer Challenge in 2022 with support from Norway, the European Union and Germany. The Challenge aims to unlock $100 million in new funding for fertilizer efficiency efforts. As part of this effort, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing FFAR $4.45 million to advance applied research on efficient fertilizer products and practices in collaboration with the private sector. The commitment from the UK FCDO ensures that the Consortium can have a broad international reach, including developing countries, and deliver science-based information on alternative fertilizers to farmers and stakeholders worldwide.
Food insecurity has increased dramatically since 2014 as food and fertilizer prices continue to reach record high levels. At the same time, nitrous oxide emissions associated with fertilizer use are a major source of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing fertilizer use efficiency is an important lever to both reduce the impact of fertilizer shortages on food security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.
“The Efficient Fertilizer Consortium will de-risk research by sharing the costs associated with research and discovery among public and private sector participants. The research we fund will benefit farmers by providing clear information on novel and alternative fertilizer performance and efficiency, helping to improve yields and lower costs,” said Allison Thomson, director of FFAR’s overarching climate initiative, AgMission™. “This research will ultimately alleviate pressure on fertilizer and natural gas supplies, increase fertilizer availability, decrease input costs, reduce nitrous oxide emissions and improve global food security.”
The Efficient Fertilizer Consortium will support research in the following areas:
- Develop protocols and conduct standard field trials of promising enhanced efficiency, alternative and next-generation fertilizers
- Support international research and evaluation projects to improve understanding of greenhouse gas mitigation and yield benefits of enhanced efficiency fertilizers and other innovative fertilizer technologies
- Refine existing core data criteria, using common research protocols and leveraging the data generated through Consortium projects to ensure comparisons across locations, populations, products and practices.
With an anticipated $4.45 million in funding from the USDA, FFAR can secure matching funding from companies participating in specific projects. With an additional $3.76 million from FCDO, the Consortium aims to contribute $15 million over five years to fertilizer research. FFAR is seeking additional partners to join the consortium.
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.