HarvestZinc Fertilizer Project

The HarvestZinc Fertilizer Project has been developed under HarvestPlus  Program (www.harvestplus.org) and was first started  on April 2008. This project seeks to explore and test fertilizer use to improve the Zn concentration of various staple food crops, particularly wheat and rice. Used in concert with breeding approach, the application of Zn fertilizers to soil and/or foliar further encourages and ensures plants to produce Zn dense seed and also contributes to yield.

Biofortification of cereal grains through use of Zn fertilizers (e.g., agronomic biofortification) promises to be:

  • a relevant and practical approach to improve Zn concentrations of staple food crops, essential for keeping sufficient amount of available Zn in soil solution and maintaining adequate Zn transport to the seeds during reproductive growth stage, and
  • required for optimizing and ensuring the success of biofortification of staple food crops with Zn through use of breeding tools.

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.

The project has been developed in two phases. The first phase of the project has been completed on May 2011 and supported by the following organizations and fertilizer companies:

Major objectives of the first phase were:

  • 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 increase capacity building through close cooperation and dissemination activities among scientists, agronomists, extension staff and local farmers in the selected target countries.