Disseminating research and knowledge: IAPN

An ever-increasing world population, changing dietary habits and climate change currently impose great demands on agricultural research. All over the world, a more efficient use of cropland and of pastures, of water and of nutrients in agriculture play increasingly important roles. One of the central issues is how to use intelligent nutrient management in order to raise the efficiency of limited resources such as water and soil. Another important challenge within this context is to increase productivity and yield security, while at the same time improving the quality of the harvested products. The Institute of Applied Plant Nutrition – IAPN, a public-private partnership between K+S and the Georg-August-University of Goettingen, is devoted to finding answers to these and to other questions.

Prof. Dr. Andreas Gransee, Director of Innovation Lab AgTech and Nutrition of K+S and Managing Director of the IAPN.

An Important Contribution to International Food Security

“With the IAPN we provide a boost to application-oriented research in the field of plant nutrition and fertilisation”, is how Prof. Dr. Andreas Gransee, Director of Applied Research and Advisory Service Agro of K+S and Managing Director of the IAPN, explains his company’s commitment. In doing so the manufacturer of potash and magnesium fertilisers contributes considerably to meeting the challenges agricultural research is facing today. Agriculture is called upon to ensure its ability to feed the future population of the world, and to efficiently use the existing resources.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Dittert, Scientific Director of the IAPN.

Current research focus of the IAPN

“In the future, limiting factors such as water scarcity or heat stress will increasingly need to be taken into consideration in plant nutrition. This is currently the one of the greatest challenge our scientific discipline is facing.“ This is how Prof. Dr. Klaus Dittert describes the most important demands placed on agricultural research at the moment. He was appointed Scientific Director of the Institute in May 2011. “An important research focus of the institute is the question of how to use optimum nutrient supply to raise the water use efficiency of plants in order to ensure excellent yields even when water is scarce.” Junior Professor Dr. Mehmet Senbayram and several PhD-students have meanwhile joined Prof. Dr. Dittert in his search for answers to these questions.

Doctoral Projects on Efficient Water Use

At the end of 2016, three IAPN PhD candidates successfully completed their doctoral projects. Their work focused on aspects of the efficient use of water for crops. More on IAPN research projects


Junior professor Prof. Dr. Merle Tränkner, scientific assistant at IAPN.

Junior professor at IAPN

Dr. Merle Tränkner became a junior professor at the IAPN in 2017. Questions relating to the supply of nutrition to crops and the efficient use of resources, such as water, for example, are the focal point of her research activity. These issues build on the research results previously achieved by the IAPN. “The constant growth in the global population and the problems posed by the increasing scarcity of resources make plant and food production that is sustainable and conserves resources while being simultaneously adequate particularly important,” says Merle Tränkner. “The efficient use of water and nutrients is of central importance for obtaining optimal plant growth and represents an exciting challenge for research at the same time.”

A Look at the work of the IAPN

Partnership for a constructive dialogue between research and practice

K+S has gathered a wealth of knowledge on plant nutrition, and has already set up a number of international research co-operations. This joint project of the University of Goettingen and K+S is meant to bundle the available resources of both organisations and to integrate the numerous individual projects into an international network. The IAPN will serve as an interface between the industry and university research. The institute’s scientists will pick up on topical issues raised by practice, and will implement these in concrete research projects.

The IAPN serves as an interface between research and practice (left).
It is organised as a private-public-partnership between K+S and the Georg-August-University Goettingen (right).

The IAPN is a so-called public-private-partnership between the Georg-August-University Goettingen and K+S. In terms of organisation and location, the new institute is closely tied to the Department of Crop Sciences of the University of Goettingen, and will conduct its international research projects in accordance with German scientific standards.

Challenge of knowledge transfer

In addition to research, spreading new but also existing knowledge is a key task for the IAPN. Students at Göttingen University and guest scientists that can later pass on knowledge themselves are among the most important target groups. The intensive exchange between IAPN and K+S bolsters the competence of the company’s agriculturalists, who are active worldwide in advising on agricultural practice. With international symposiums on magnesium in 2012 and 2014, the IAPN provided an important stimulus for interdisciplinary exchanges between scientists who are leading magnesium specialists. 

During the “IAPN im Dialog” series of events, scientists and practitioners report on projects concerning plant cultivation and plant nutrition. The events, which have an international character, are aimed at students, scientists and other interested persons.

Read more about the work of the IAPN

Institute of Applied Plant Nutrition (IAPN): Universität Göttingen continues cooperation with K+S

Can oil palm cultivation be sustainable?

Sustainable Intensification for a viable future

To the IAPN website


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