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Aug 6, 2014

Fertilisation in Bulgaria made easier by new fertilisation manual

The project “Best Management Practices for Sustainable Crop Nutrition (BMPSCN)”, which had been started during the winter of 2008 and which was supported by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), has now been completed after nearly six years of work. The project's objective was to improve cultivation systems in Bulgaria by improving the efficiency and sustainability of plant nutrient application and by creating user-friendly tools for the development of fertilisation recommendations (see photograph below).

The project “Best Management Practices for Sustainable Crop Nutrition (BMPSCN)“ was supported by the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI).(Source: RIK Minerva, Bulgaria and K+S KALI GmbH)

In addition to Dr Paul E. Fixen, Senior Vice President Americas Group and Director of Research of the IPNI, Prof Margarita Nikolova (Forestry University, Sofia) as Project Director and Dr Thomas Popp (K+S KALI GmbH) as coordinator, the project involved five different Bulgarian organisations affiliated with either universities or with official research institutions. The project focussed on several issues: the effect of  the macro-nutrients potassium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus under local Bulgarian conditions were investigated based on 28 field trials at 12 different locations, using 12 different crops (see map below). In Bulgaria, a great variety of crops is cultivated, so these field trials included field crops such as wheat, barley, rapeseed, maize and sunflower, in addition to vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and fruit, such as peaches, apricots, chokeberries and grapes. The locations were selected to represent a great variety of local conditions and climates, in order to reflect the entire country. The selection of crops represented approximately 78% of the country's areas under cultivation.

28 field trials at 12 different locations using 12 different crops served as a basis for investigating the effects of the macro-nutrients nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) and magnesium (M) under local Bulgarian conditions. (Source: Margarita Nikolova)

Using the methods developed by the Geographic Information System (GIS), the already available results of soil analyses were allocated to their original areas. The areas selected for the trials were regions for which data was scarce or non-existent. In a subsequent step, soil samples were taken from these selected, representative fields and assessed. Extensive research of publications since 1963 on the effect of nutrients on the soil and on plants was conducted in order to support the practical trials and analyses. The contents of these publications were summarised and included in the assessments. The resulting 62-page manual in Bulgarian language is an excellent tool for the development of fertilisation recommendations. In addition to a project description, it contains information on soil and plant sampling and analysis, as well as recommendations for selecting appropriate fertilisers for field crops, vegetables, fruit and viticulture. The most important facts for calculating the appropriate amounts of mineral and organic fertilisers have been summarised in a comprehensible and condensed manner (see photograph below).

A Bulgarian-language manual helps farmers to select appropriate fertilisation. (Source: RIK Minerva, Bulgaria)

In addition, the development of special software for advisory services is planned. The intention is to provide this software to farmers, free of charge, in order to support them in implementing their own fertilisation management. Within the scope of a project excursion in July 2014, the project partners presented the manual and information on these new options to nearly 200 guests, at 5 locations (see photographs below). Seminar participants included employees of the National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAAS), farmers, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture and other public institutions.

 

Within the scope of a project excursion in July 2014, the project partners presented the manual and information on these new options to nearly 200 guests, at 5 locations. (Photograph: K+S KALI GmbH).

Dr Thomas Popp sums up the experience: “The feedback we got at the seminars was overwhelmingly positive. Visitors mentioned the highly interesting articles and the valuable information provided by the manual. Many of them planned to implement the new fertilisation system during their upcoming autumn fertilisation.”

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