2020 Winner

N-ALLyzer: From Nitrogen to ALL other nutrients

USA, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, and Ethiopia

Nitrogen (N) is the most limiting nutrient for cereal production, with wheat, maize and rice accounting for more than 50% of current N fertilizer consumption at 108 million mt/year.

Fertilizer use has supported current food demands and spared millions of hectares of land from slash-and-burn agriculture. The current inequitable fertilizer use, however, is unsustainable, resulting in land degradation and nutrient mining with low or unbalanced fertilization versus excessive financial losses and environmental pollution with overuse. In both scenarios, N fertilizer is generally overapplied or imbalanced, resulting in poor N use efficiency (<50%).

N plays a critical role in the plant’s life cycle for key physiological processes, such as photosynthesis. Healthy plants maintain an optimal ratio of N to other nutrients.

The project will utilize these known relationships together with technology advancements and accessibility in smartphones, big data, Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) and crop simulation modeling to develop a real-time nutrient recommendation system called N-ALLyzer. 

Based on leaf image and simple user inputs including location, growth stage, crop/variety, irrigated or rainfed, and amountnitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N, P and K) and secondary and micronutrients (SMNs) applied, N-ALLyzer will initially provide recommendations for N, P and K and then recommendations for SMNs.

The N-ALLyzer app will assist farmers in making optimal economic decisions on fertilizer application rates, with minimal user input. Unlike the traditional nutrient calculations, the app requires simple mobile phone-based pictures of maize or wheat leaves and answer few key questions on farming, to generate fertilizer recommendations customized using big data analytics and simulations.

The Inspire Challenge is an initiative to challenge partners, universities, and others to use CGIAR data to create innovative pilot projects that will scale. We look for novel approaches that democratize data-driven insights to inform local, national, regional, and global policies and applications in agriculture and food security in real time; helping people–especially smallholder farmers and producers–to lead happier and healthier lives.

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