International Fertilizer Development Center
IFDC, established in October 1974, is known for its expertise in fertilizers that service developing countries.
IFDC opened its headquarters in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Reservation in 1976. Division offices opened in Lomé, Togo in 1987 and Dhaka, Bangladesh in 1992. Today, IFDC operates four divisions in over 20 countries.
IFDC originated as a private, nonprofit corporation under the laws of the State of Alabama, United States.
In March 1977, IFDC qualified as a Public International Organization by Presidential Decree 11977. IFDC received widespread support, cooperation and backing from the global community for which it was created and continues to thrive upon its successes.
Divisions East and Southern Africa Division : Active Countries: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
The East and South Africa Division (ESAFD) of IFDC handles areas where previous farming techniques are no longer adequate for the growing population they serve. ESAFD works to improve farmers’ access to quality seeds and fertilizers as well as markets to cover their costs. The effort also educates farmers in Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) to improve soil conditions.
North and West Africa Division : Active Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
The North and West Africa Division (NWAFD) of IFDC covers an area of Africa of about 520 million people, more than half of whom are directly affected by its programs. These programs include demonstrations fields where farmers receive hands-on training and experience with new and specialized fertilizer, seed, crop protection and irrigation research. Through the use of voucher programs called “smart subsidies,” farmers can receive quality supplies in a timely manner and be supported at harvest time.
EurAsia Division : Active Countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar
The EurAsia Division (EAD) of IFDC focuses on countries with little land suitable for farming where farmers’ yields steadily decrease over time due to crop quality and quantity. EAD hopes to reverse these issues by addressing specific financial, market, and agricultural needs. The division teaches farmers about Fertilizer Deep Placement (FDP), a method which has previously raised crop yields by 20 percent and decreased nitrogen losses by 40 percent.
Office of Programs : The Office of Programs conducts research and development projects dedicated to improving fertilizer efficiency. It offers consultation to national governments as well as private sector organizations with regard to critical domains such as supply/demand and policy issues.
Research and Development
By 2050, 60 percent more food will need to be grown annually to keep up with a rapidly growing population. According to Vaclav Smil, man-made nitrogen fertilizers are keeping about 40% of the world’s population alive. IFDC conducts research to identify the most efficient use of fertilizer raw materials and develops processes to use these materials in the sustainable and cost-effective manufacture of various fertilizer products. In Bangladesh, for example, IFDC introduced Urea Deep Placement (UDP) technology, an briquetted form of urea applied into the soil, which increases farmer incomes by an average of 20% and decreases nitrogen loss by up to 30%. Applied research also includes the development of more efficient cropping technologies, decision support tools and the agronomic evaluation of these products and processes to ensure their long-term viability in a free-market environment.
Fertilizer Deep Placement : During the mid to late 1980s, IFDC began research in India on several fertilizer types, one being the IFDC-developed fertilizer deep placement (FDP) technology, which was shown at the time to decrease nitrogen losses by 9% on sorghum crops. In 1986, the Center introduced FDP in Bangladesh where IFDC has promoted the technology ever since. Farmers are now using the technology on 1.7 million acres in that country alone. In 2007, IFDC began a new FDP campaign, spreading the technology to sub-Saharan Africa.
FDP involves "briquetting" nitrogen fertilizer by compacting prilled fertilizer into 1-3 gram briquettes. The briquettes (either urea- or NPK-based) are then placed in a plants root zone, as opposed to the traditional application method of broadcasting. Trials have shown that FDP and UDP (when only urea is used) can increase crop production up to 36 percent, reduce fertilizer use by up to 38 percent, and reduce nitrogen losses by up to 40 percent.
The technology, mainly promoted in lowland flooded rice, showed promising results in reducing nitrogen runoff, so in 2012, IFDC began research in Bangladesh to quantify GHG emissions produced from using FDP. Through the USAID-funded Accelerating Agricultural Productivity Improvement project, which integrated the U.S. government’s Global Climate Change Initiative into its Feed the Future Initiative, research is currently underway.
Peak Phosphorus : Phosphorus is a key component of fertilizer, along with nitrogen and potassium. Predicting the future event of peak phosphate in which production of phosphate rock begins to decline as resources dwindle, researchers estimated that world phosphorus supplies would be used up by 2030 if mined and processed at its present rates. Depletion of this material would be a major complication for the fertilizer production sector.
In 2010, IFDC geologist Steven Van Kauwenburgh estimated the world’s supply of phosphate rock at 60 billion metric tons in the publication World Phosphate Rock Reserves and Resources. By his estimates, global resources of phosphate rock suitable to produce phosphate rock concentrate, phosphoric acid, phosphate fertilizers and other phosphate-based products will be available for several hundred years. His estimation overshadowed previous estimates of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by 44 billion tons. Upon review and intense scrutiny of the information in the report, the USGS revised its world phosphate rock reserve and resource numbers to more closely reflect those stated in the report.