The HarvestZinc Fertilizer Project has been developed under HarvestPlus Program in two phases. The first phase was started on April 2008 and completed on May 2011, and the second phase is expected to be finished in August, 2014.

The project seeks to explore and test fertilizer use to improve the Zn concentration of various staple food crops, particularly wheat and rice. Application of Zn-containing fertilizers (agronomic biofortification) offers a rapid solution to the problem, and represents an important complementary approach to genetic solutions via plant breeding. A soil and/or foliar zinc fertilizer application strategy aims at

  • keeping and maintaining sufficient amount of available Zn in soil solution contributing to sufficient Zn transport to the seeds during reproductive growth stage by increasing Zn pools in leaf tissue and
  • optimizing and ensuring the success of plant breeding programs aiming at improving cereal grains with Zn.

Combination of breeding and fertilizer use strategies offers great promise and represents an excellent complementary approach to alleviate Zn-deficiency related problems in human nutrition and crop production.

Major objectives of the project are:

  • to test the role of Zn-containing N-P-K fertilizers for increasing root Zn uptake and improving grain Zn concentration
  • to identify the most effective foliar Zn application time and method for promoting leaf Zn uptake and maximizing Zn accumulation in grain
  • to collect information on the role of Zn-containing fertilizers in improving grain yield and
  • to demonstrate that the plants emerging from high Zn-seeds i) have improved seedling vigor and hence better yield
  • to evaluate the applicability of Zn together with widely used insecticides and/or fungicides on wheat and also rice in the target countries
  • to increase awareness of the project results and achievements by organizing "zinc days" events and preparing educational materials such as videos and manuals, and
  • to increase capacity building through close cooperation and dissemination activities among scientists, agronomists, extension staff and local farmers in the selected target countries.