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Plant nutrition research: Priorities to meet human needs for food in sustainable ways

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Abstract

The world population is expanding rapidly and will likely be 10 billion by the year 2050. Limited availability of additional arable land and water resources, and the declining trend in crop yields globally make food security a major challenge in the 21st century. According to the projections, food production on presently used land must be doubled in the next two decades to meet food demand of the growing world population. To achieve the required massive increase in food production, large enhancements in application of fertilizers and improvements of soil fertility are indispensable approaches. Presently, in many developing countries, poor soil fertility, low levels of available mineral nutrients in soil, improper nutrient management, along with the lack of plant genotypes having high tolerance to nutrient deficiencies or toxicities are major constraints contributing to food insecurity, malnutrition (i.e., micronutrient deficiencies) and ecosystem degradation. Plant nutrition research provides invaluable information highly useful in elimination of these constraints, and thus, sustaining food security and well-being of humans without harming the environment. The fact that at least 60% of cultivated soils have growth-limiting problems with mineral-nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, and about 50% of the world population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies make plant nutrition research a major promising area in meeting the global demand for sufficient food production with enhanced nutritional value in this millennium. Integration of plant nutrition research with plant genetics and molecular biology is indispensable in developing plant genotypes with high genetic ability to adapt to nutrient deficient and toxic soil conditions and to allocate more micronutrients into edible plant products such as cereal grains.

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Cakmak, I. Plant nutrition research: Priorities to meet human needs for food in sustainable ways. Plant and Soil 247, 3–24 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1021194511492

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  • food security
  • macronutrients
  • micronutrients
  • mineral fertilization
  • molecular biology
  • nutrient efficiency
  • nutrient management