The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) has unveiled a new publication titled A Preliminary Nutrient Use Geographic Information System (NuGIS) for the U.S., along with an interactive on-line interface.

“For the past couple of years, IPNI scientific staff and other cooperators have been working on a rigorous GIS-based model for assessing nutrient balance and balance trends in the U.S., termed ‘NuGIS’. This project is part of our responsibility for understanding the nutrient status of cropping systems and as a complement to our periodic inventorying of soil fertility levels in the U.S.,” said IPNI President Dr. Terry Roberts.

By integrating multiple data layers to create county-level estimates of nutrient removal by crops, fertilizer applied, and manure nutrients, NuGIS offers a rather clear picture of nutrient balance for most of the contiguous 48 states, as well as temporal trends over the last 20 years. Geospatial techniques are used to migrate the county data to watersheds which allows NuGIS output to be compared to the output of other natural resource models.

“IPNI sees on-going assessment of nutrient balance and nutrient use efficiency in crop production as one of its responsibilities. That assessment is one of the two primary objectives of NuGIS. The other objective is to identify weaknesses in the process of doing that assessment,” explains Dr. Paul Fixen, IPNI senior vice president and director of research. He has been the leader of the NuGIS effort. “Our goal in NuGIS is to put a face on nutrient use and nutrient use trends in the U.S. Once that face is developed, the ‘blemishes’ in the developmental process should become more apparent and their significance better appreciated, with the hope that all of us involved in the process will collectively strive for improvements,” Dr. Fixen explains.

 “An extensive in-depth methods section is provided in the bulletin to offer complete transparency into how the balance estimates are made and displayed. The intent of this transparency is to make the flaws obvious so constructive criticisms can be collected and the need for any process improvements apparent. Results are shown in a combination of color maps, tables, and graphs, summarized in a 60-page publication and available on CD. The CD also contains a PowerPoint file of figures and an Excel workbook containing all balance component data at a state level. Interpretation of the results is rather limited. Future, more focused publications will emphasize interpretation. We see this bulletin presenting a preliminary NuGIS. Once we have received input from the many stake-holders interested in nutrient use, appropriate modifications will be made and a final NuGIS will be released and become part of the routine operation of IPNI,” Dr. Fixen explains.

A powerful feature of NuGIS is a Web site and interactive map where the user can navigate to different geographic regions and view NuGIS data layers and other geographic features. Clicking on the region of interest reveals more detailed data for that region.

A Preliminary Nutrient Use Geographic Information System (NuGIS) for the U.S., the 60-page, 8.5 x 11 inch booklet, is available for purchase at $25.00 per copy, plus shipping/handling. An order form with more information plus a pdf of the complete publication are available for download at the IPNI Web site: http://www.ipni.net/nugis.

Visitors to the Web site may also access the interactive on-line tool. Comments, suggestions, or questions may be sent by e-mail to nugis@ipni.net.