Perspectives Volume 40, Number 1 | Page 9

soil of nutrients. Our goal was to help smallholders increase use efficiency, thereby reducing losses and earning more money. We began by researching the effects of coating urea and changing its physical form. This research has achieved tremendous success over the years, leading to climate-smart technologies such as urea deep placement (UDP). Our nitrogen program is still making great strides. Phosphorus fertilizer also presented a challenge because the tropical soils’ composition in South America and subSaharan Africa fixed available phosphorus from water-soluble phosphorus fertilizers, thus drastically reducing its availability to plants. When solving a problem, we try to benefit the farmer directly. Our scientists looked for ways for farmers to directly apply locally available phosphate rock to their soils. This method would make phosphorus accessible and affordable for smallholder farmers. Our research shows that this is a sustainable possibility, and we are continuing to learn more about making this approach economical for farmers. The early structure of IFDC was like an “assembly line” for developing these technologies and taking them to farmers. Three divisions worked together to get new fertilizer innovations out of the lab and into the field. Most projects began in the Agro-Economic Division, which identified farmer needs and envisioned efficiency-increasing solutions. The Fertilizer Technology Division made these ideas into reality. Part of this division’s work was solving technical and economic issues related to new production technologies. Finally, the Outreach Division rolled out the knowledge and products, taking them to farmers, engineers and other agriculture professionals. “The early structure of IFDC was like an ‘assembly line’ for developing these technologies and taking them to farmers.” This structure gave way to great success in IFDC’s first decade. But by the mid-1980s, political environments and agricultural technology were changing and advancing rapidly. The time came for IFDC to make its first major realignment, a move that would define the organization’s impact for the next 30 years. IFDC Magazine 9