How we manage our farms and fields is not only important for the nutrition of crops and livestock, but also for the quality and nutritive value of the food we eat.

This topic is yet to be developed, but could include discussion of nutrient density, hidden hunger and communicating nutritive value of agricultural products through the supply chain.

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Plants need around 12 essential mineral nutrients to grow: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Sulphur (S), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). Crop requirements differ hugely between elements, from 100s kg/ha of N & K, 10s kg/ha P, S, & Ca, 100s g/ha Fe, Mn, Zn & Cu, to 1s g/ha B & Mo.  Crops also differ inherently in these requirements due both to their genetics and their growing conditions.  Crops need these nutrients primarily to form and operate the photosynthetic tissues that convert solar energy and water into edible (or otherwise useful) energy.  Subsequently crops redistribute some nutrients from their leaves and stems to their generative organs, according to the nutritional requirements of crop re-establishment e.g. the nutrient needs of seedlings.  Depending on which crop components are harvested and removed, crop nutrients are either exported and used in feeds or foods, or are returned to the soil to form soil organic matter.   

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Share your ideas and experience of how to improve nutrient efficiency and reduce dependence on artificial fertilisers

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TABLE is a global platform for knowledge synthesis, for reflective, critical thinking and for inclusive dialogue on debates about the future of food.

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