Inspiring International Interest in Micronutrients

Steven Beckley

The Micronutrient Manufacturers Association (MMA) formed in 2009 represents manufacturers and formulators of products that provide micronutrients that are essential for plant growth. The purpose of the association is to promote, educate, and sponsor research on the agronomic use of micronutrients. MMA also engages in legislative and regulatory activities and facilitates industry communications.
Continuing as current officers and directors of the association are: Joel Bzura, Old Bridge Chemicals, Chairman; Paul Fink, U.S. Borax, Vice Chairman; and Dale Edgington, Advanced Micronutrient Products, Secretary/Treasurer. Steve Beckley, S. Beckley and Associates serves as President/Administrator. Additionally John Bowen, Cameron Chemical; Richard Camp, Kronos Micronutrients; Paul Reising, Compass Minerals; and Jim Scott, Winfield Solutions serve on the board of directors.
It is the association’s goal to increase the domestic use of micronutrient fertilizer. Micronutrients play an important role in fertilizer efficiency and can help plants grow with less, which reduces costs and helps protect the environment.
MMA was a sponsor of the Argus FMB Europe Fertilizer 2016 Micronutrient Forum. Speakers from the United States included Dale Edgington of Advanced Micronutrient Products and Cameron Chemicals along with Kent Lambden of Compass Minerals. Each speaker was asked to develop a presentation that focused on identifying micronutrient deficiencies in the field and in the crop along with the technologies available for the efficacious treatment to enhance yields and to biofortify crops with elements essential to human nutrition. Twelve manufacturers participated in a roundtable discussion focused on significant accomplishments and the continuing obstacles faced by the industry. The European producers were keenly interested in the MMA’s role in providing a common voice for the industry when faced with a growing regulatory burden and expressed an interest in forming an organization for the same benefit.
The association is also an associate member of the International Zinc Association (IZA). The IZA, through the Zinc Nutrient Initiative, promotes the use of zinc in crop production. Deficiencies in soils limit crop yields and nutritional quality, which, in turn, negatively affects human health. It is a serious issue especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Micronutrient fertilizer, according to research, has the potential to play a major role in the biofortification of food. Not only does zinc have an important role, but selenium and iron also have roles.
This year will continue to be a challenge in marketing micronutrients as growers continue to look closely at input costs due to soft corn and soybean markets. It is our goal to educate them and their crop advisers on the importance of soil testing and micronutrients in a total plant nutrition program. Today’s high-yield crops remove large amounts of nutrients from the ground, which must be replaced. The need for a balanced nutrition program remains no matter what the market is for commodities.
Education of Certified Crop Advisers on micronutrients is an ongoing effort of the association. Representatives of member companies speak at various educational seminars and also members hold individual education programs.
A primary tool in helping accomplish this education goal is the development of online courses for Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) to educate them on the various micronutrients. Currently courses on zinc, boron, copper, and iron are online. These courses allow CCAs to learn the basics regarding these nutrients and receive Continuing Education Units (CEU). The CCA Self Study CEU courses are available at certifiedcropadviser.org/certifications/self-study#Nutrient+Management. •

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Beckley is President and Administrator of the Micronutrient Manufacturers Association. On the web at: micronutrientfertilizer.com/ or email [email protected]