NCERA_old103: Specialized Soil Amendments and Products, Growth Stimulants and Soil Fertility Management Programs (NCERA-103)

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NCERA_old103: Specialized Soil Amendments and Products, Growth Stimulants and Soil Fertility Management Programs (NCERA-103)

Duration: 10/01/2012 to 10/01/2017

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

The use of fertilizer and soil amendments is critical to profitable production of agronomic and horticultural crops in the US. There is a large research base available evaluating the use of traditional fertilizers and soil amendments, documenting the economic and environmental impacts of their use. However, non-conventional products for agriculture, including some soil amendments, growth stimulants, or soil fertility management programs are often promoted and sold on the premise of replacing or extending the efficacy of standard crop production inputs, but without an extensive research base supporting their use. For stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding use of these products or programs, they must have access to information that provides fair and scientifically valid evaluation of these products or programs. Without such information, stakeholders may invest in products or programs which are of little or no value to them, or may be inappropriate for their climate, soils, or cropping system, or may reduce crop production, or may have detrimental environmental impact.

Many of the products or programs evaluated through this committee are expensive to use, particularly if they have negative effects on crop production or the environment, and are often marketed under different names in different states. The names of the products or programs may change frequently as manufacturer or marketing entities change. The committee has functioned as a repository for the collection and dissemination of information about the active ingredients for products or programs, along with information on manufacturers and distributors of the products or programs, as well as any research which has been conducted on the product or program. Pooling research data across multiple states is needed because research on these products is generally poorly funded by the companies themselves and only a limited number of experiments, if any, are conducted with each product. In some states, specialized agricultural products must be registered and/or licensed for sale. Research information on products or programs provided by the committee or individual committee members has been used by state regulatory officials in determining if a product or program has value and should be registered or licensed. If this project is successful it will reduce the use of non-traditional products that have benign or detrimental effects and increase the use of the beneficial non-traditional products.


  1. Collect information about new or evolving non-traditional fertilizers, biostimulants, soil amendments, and other similar products and soil fertility and crop management programs and make this information available to committee members.
  2. Provide unbiased evaluations, as resources permit, of non-traditional fertilizers, biostimulants, soil amendments, and other similar products and soil fertility and crop management programs, and publish results of those evaluations as North Central Regional Research Bulletins.
  3. Disseminate information about non-traditional fertilizers, biostimulants, soil amendments, and other similar products and soil fertility and crop management programs, and research-based evaluations of those, to a variety of clientele, including Extension staff, producers, fertilizer dealers, crop consultants, farm managers, regulatory agencies, and agricultural lenders. Information will be available through a variety of means: a committee web site, maintenance of an on-going publication series, a web-based Compendium of Research Reports, as well as the NIMSS website.

Procedures and Activities

Committee members will meet once a year to review and plan activities, share information on new products or programs, discuss publications in development or needs for new publications, and plan educational efforts.

The committee will maintain a file of information and promotional materials for specialized agricultural products, called the Product List, which will be updated annually.

Currently the Product List is a text document, but we will convert it to a searchable database format to increase its utility and make it easier to update.

The committee will maintain an electronic compendium of products and their performance in research studies. The compendium originally existed in an original published form with two supplements, and was converted to a searchable electronic form in 2005. This compendium contains information about the performance of specialized products and programs which meet committee criteria for publication.

The committee has a history of summarizing research results on specific products or programs into concise North Central Regional Research Bulletins. This effort will continue as information on emerging products or programs develops.

The committee will develop a website which will serve as a central repository for committee information and publications which can be easily accessed by clientele. Currently, information is available on multiple websites or in hardcopy form only. The product list, compendium on research results, and North Central Regional Bulletins contain significant information which is not available elsewhere. The committee website will make this information available to a broader audience within and outside the North Central region.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Continued review and summary of new products or soil fertility programs and their performance. Information on active ingredients and/or modes of action of products will be reviewed, with on-going updating of the product list and compendium.
  • Preparation and publication of one North Central Regional Research Bulletin, on average, per year.
  • Dissemination of information through the centralized committee website. The current compendium website received over 4000 visits in 2010-2011 compared to 2300 in 2005, its first year of existence. We expect broader availability of this information through a centralized website that also contains the product list and links to existing publications.
  • Substantial economic impacts will result each year. Many specialized products or non-traditional soil fertility programs cost between $8 and $30/acre/yr. A decision to not use a non-traditional product, based on research information provided by the committee, for a typical farm operation in the North Central region of 800 acres could thus save an individual producer $6,400 to $24,000/yr just in product cost. If the non-traditional product has detrimental effects or is substituted for an input that is beneficial then the economic cost to the producer may be several fold greater.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

Information on new products or programs will be used to update the product list annually.

Unbiased statistically-valid research results evaluating the performance of new products or programs will be added to the compendium annually.

New regional publications will be developed as information is available.

Updated information resources will be made available on the committee website for use by a wide range of clientele: producers, crop consultants, Extension educators, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff, regulatory agencies, and others who advise crop producers.

Information compiled and disseminated by the committee will be used in a wide range of settings, including Extension workshops, supplemental websites, and regulatory decisions each year.

Membership to the committee from states outside the North Central region will be sought to broaden input to the committee, and to more widely disseminate committee information.


A chair and secretary will be elected from committee membership for two-year terms. The secretary shall replace the chair at the end of their 2-year term, unless they decline.

Literature Cited


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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