What kinds of innovations have helped to enhance the efficiency of fertilizer use?
We have been able to drive improved fertilizer efficiency by innovating across the full agronomic menu of crop production. Right from understanding what the soil needs, to what seed to planted, to selecting the right fertility management program. Innovation has helped ensure that more of the nutrients we apply end up in the plant, rather than being lost to the environment.
At Nutrien, we are proud that we not only bring growers a wide selection of plant nutrition and soil health products, but that we also work shoulder-to-shoulder with them to help them make informed choice to get the most out of their investment in crop fertility.
How can such innovations – or adapted versions thereof – reach farmers throughout the world and not only those in wealthy countries?
There needs to be investment to ensure that agronomic support is available at the grower level, and that the physical supply chain is in place to provide the best products in a timely and cost-efficient manner. When it comes to the first part, you might see the developing areas more rapidly adopt digital tools – especially when it comes to scouting and agronomic advice. The second part is hard, as it requires a lot of investment (and a return on it).
In the end, supportive policy will play a big role. We need to encourage and incent the use of best available technology. That in itself can make meaningful impact.
Is there a precompetitive space when it comes to discovering potential new technologies? What is the role of other stakeholders in the innovation space?
Every successful company has specific areas where they have clear advantages and therefore will be more protective. That said, there are billions of dollars pouring into the ag tech landscape, and that is all driven around the concept of collaboration. Take Silicon Valley as an example – it developed as a cluster where players come together to incubate ideas, access talent and secure investment dollars. We have developed multiple partnerships with across the broad ecosystem – from investors to innovators to other strategics.
When it comes to other stakeholder roles, we think company’s like Nutrien have a big role. Given our access to the farmer, we help innovators focus on the right challenges and – ultimately – we can help bring the best technology to the farm regardless of who developed it.
Can technological solutions alone do the trick, or are other solutions, in the policy or incentive space, for example, required?
We need both. There is a lot of sustainable Ag technology that we have today that is not widely utilized. You can see it show up in yield disparity and fertilizer use efficiency on a region by region basis. Supportive Ag policy is critical to help put it in the hands of growers and incent them to use best available technology.
But it won’t be enough. As a broader industry we need to also invest in new solutions and technologies that help growers become more productive, profitable and sustainable. It is not only in fertilizer, but across the broader Ag eco-system – right from the inputs to the data solutions.