Dr. Zhenling Cui, a research scientist at China Agricultural University, is the 2017 recipient of the World Food Prize Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Cui is being honored for his research and extension work in improving soil health and increasing crop production through the implementation of innovative on-farm fertilizer management strategies. His innovations, developed in close conjunction with farmers, have led to improved nitrogen efficiency, resulting in higher corn and wheat yields throughout the North China Plain, while simultaneously reducing soil degradation and water pollution, impacting thousands of farmers in China.
Cui’s name was made public Sept. 29 during a ceremony hosted by U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry E. Branstad, former Iowa governor. Dr. Chen Zhangliang, a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors, made the formal announcement.
Cui, 39, is a faculty member at China Agricultural University, where he conducts research and implements an extension program for smallholder farmers, aimed at increasing their corn and wheat productivity while maintaining environmental integrity.
Cui and his research group developed a first-of-its-kind, nitrogen management system that has significantly reduced nitrogen fertilizer application – by as much as 60% for wheat and 40% percent for corn – while simultaneously increasing grain yields by 5%. Furthermore, nitrogen releases have been reduced by 73% in the wheat growing season, and 43% in the corn growing season, significantly diminishing soil degradation and water pollution.
“Norman Borlaug’s last words were ‘take it to the farmer.’ Dr. Cui, through his face to face interaction with thousands of farmers has clearly fulfilled Dr. Borlaug’s call and, as such, is most worthy of this prestigious global recognition,” said Kenneth Quinn, World Food Prize Foundation president.
“I enjoy working, eating and living with farmers, which allows me to better understand farming practices,” Cui said. “I have undertaken thousands of face-to-face farmer surveys in order to understand their practices regarding fertilizer application.”
Cui will be formally presented the $10,000 Norman Borlaug Award on Oct. 18, 2017, in a ceremony at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, Iowa, as part of the 2017 World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium. He is the sixth individual under the age of 40 to receive this high honor.
Source: World Food Prize Foundation