international fertilizer correspondent
No 7

IPI celebrates 50 years of service


IPI celebrates

50 years promotion
- The early years
- Proven again and again
- Proven over time
- When more means no more and less, even less
- The way ahead for nutrient management
- 50 years recent events
- 50 years in print


Other editions of IFC

The world has changed greatly in the last fifty years. Half a century ago, just after the Second World War, the total population was about 2.5 billion people, two-thirds of whom were in the developing world. Cereals yielded, on average, less than 1.3 t/ha. By the early '60s, global per capita cereal production was 290 kg although, in developing countries, it was a meagre 193 kg. At the time, agriculture was hard pressed to produce enough food for the growing population.

(by courtesy of K+S KALI GmbH, Germany)

Now the global population has risen to over 6 billion. Almost 80% are living in developing countries where food production has also risen. They now achieve cereal grain harvests of about 2.7 t/ha while, in developed countries, the average has increased to 3.6 t/ha. Per capita cereal production has increased by almost 30% to 340 kg, more than keeping pace with the increase in population.

Agricultural research, with the collaboration of the fertilizer industry, has played a key role in this achievement throughout the '50s and since. But the contribution, especially of the French and German potash industries in the '20s and '30s, should not be overlooked. They were convinced that it was essential to promote balanced fertilization, not only in their home markets but also in countries outside Europe. This led to the foundation of the International Potash Institute on 11 October 1952 in Berne, Switzerland.

Soon other producers from Europe joined the Institute which now has members from Belarus, England, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan and Russia. As early as 1953, one year after the foundation of IPI, a Scientific Board was established in Zurich, Switzerland, to provide IPI with the necessary scientific background and guidance. In the following years, IPI organized a range of annual congresses and colloquia the first of which, in 1954 in Zurich, was a congress on ‘Potassium in the soil and in living organisms’. Since that time, more than 60 major international scientific events have been organized and conducted by IPI.

Very early on, the young IPI looked beyond the borders of Europe and established missions around the world, either on its own responsibility or in collaboration with the Foundation for International Potash Research, Washington DC, USA, the predecessor of PPI. The most comprehensive mission was the POTASCHEME in India, 1957-1962 which had both expatriates and a large number of local staff. Other missions were founded in subsequent years in Peru, Uruguay, former Rhodesia, Hong Kong, Iran, East Africa, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. Currently, IPI operates internationally with ten Co-ordinators who organize, with local partners, field trials and field days, workshops and publications. They serve in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Southeast Asia, Central/Eastern Europe, the Former Soviet Union and in West Asia/North Africa.

Publications (both crop and subject specific), periodicals and proceedings from IPI conferences transfer knowledge to those who are unable to attend the meetings. The Green Bulletins, the Potash Review, Kali-Briefe, Crop Bulletins, Research Topics and, last but not least, ifc, the International Fertilizer Correspondent, are well acknowledged carriers of information on balanced fertilization and much in demand. Publications in more than 20 languages make it easy for the local farmer, extensionist, fertilizer advisor or student to understand the message.

With its home page, www.ipipotash.org, IPI joined the global web in 1999 to inform an increasing world internet-linked community about balanced fertilization with potash. Visitors to the site can find out about the effect on yield, quality, and stress tolerance of cultivated plants, and how balanced fertilization contributes to safeguarding natural resources, protecting the environment and alleviating poverty.

Objectives of IPI 1952:

  • to foster the application of scientific and practical methods for the amelioration of the soil in general and the use of fertilizers, especially of potash. The Institute pursues its aims by:
  • delegating experts for studies concerning the improvement of soil fertility;
  • by compiling scientific documentation on soil fertility and fertilizer requirements;
  • by contribution to scientific and practical research centres, and
  • by technical and scientific support of all organizations concerned with soil fertility and fertilizer use.

What is the rationale behind the congress?

The future of humankind depends on its willingness and ability to live in harmony with an environment in which resources are limited and where people require adequate food and wholesome water supplies. This Congress aims to set out some of the environmentally benign and economically viable ways within which future food production systems must operate to be socially acceptable, and to identify basic concepts of soil and crop management for sustainable farming systems. The latter will need to be developed further to suit the soils and crops in the widely varying climatic regions of the world but one basic requirement cannot be ignored. To grow sufficient food to meet the needs of the world’s population it will be essential to have sufficient, readily available plant nutrients in the soil.

In many farming systems, plant nutrients available from natural sources and by recy-cling organic manure are not sufficient to meet the require-ments of crops. In conse-quence, mineral fertilizers must be used judiciously to make good deficiencies. But these fertilizers must be formulated and used in the most environmentally accep-table and sustainable ways. To achieve these objectives, farmers and growers will require an ever-increasing transfer of appropriate information based on adequate research. For the last 50 years, the International Potash Institute has sought to both foster research and ensure that the results are made available to advisors and, through them, to farmers worldwide.

The venue

The congress will be held in the Convention Center, Basel, Switzerland during 8-10 October 2002 and the congress language will be English. Basel is traditionally termed as the “Golden Gate” to Switzerland. It is located in the north western corner of Switzerland bordering Germany and France. Basel forms a perfect traffic hub with three railway stations as well as the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. To enter Switzerland a valid passport is required. Participants are invited to contact the nearest Swiss Consulate in their country for visa requirements. If a letter of invitation is needed, please contact the IPI Secretariat as soon as possible.
The weather during October is pleasant with a mean temperature of 10°C, a rainfall probability of 30% and a total of 122 hrs of sunshine.