Soil Management

Importance of Nutrients in Soil Health

Alan Blaylock, Ph.D.

Alan Blaylock, Ph.D.


Senior Agronomist

Dr. Alan Blaylock brings extensive North American and international experience in nutrient management to the agronomy team. University studies and service as a university extension soils specialist prepared him for a long career in the fertilizer industry. Having managed both domestic and global research and education programs, Dr. Blaylock has a wealth of experience in applying science-based nutrient management principles and products to solving practical questions. Dr. Blaylock earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in agronomy and horticulture from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in soil science from Iowa State University. He has been in agriculture his entire life — from his childhood on an irrigated farm in eastern Oregon to teaching soil science at Iowa State University to his current role as an agronomist at Nutrien. These diverse experiences helped Dr. Blaylock develop the skills to excel in translating complex scientific principles into practical solutions. Although early in his university studies he explored computer science as a profession, deep family roots in agriculture brought him back to the people and values of his heritage. His career satisfaction comes from helping others improve the performance of nutrients and cropping systems.

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Soil health is certainly a hot topic in many circles these days, and it seems everyone has their own definition of what that means. Healthy soils are key to sustaining global food production while protecting the environment. While fertilizers are often criticized in some circles as being detrimental to soil health, they are a critical component of soil health management.

Certainly, there can be some negative effects if nutrients are not properly managed. For example, some nitrogen fertilizers can acidify soil over time if soils are not properly limed, leading to diminished biological activity and productivity. Proper fertilization promotes greater biomass production, the food supply for microorganisms, and stimulates greater biological activity. Proper fertilization coupled with sound agronomic management of crops and soils enhances soil chemical, physical, and biological properties leading to greater and more sustainable productivity.

To learn more about the intersection of soil health and fertilizers, check out this link.