Dr Ismail Cakmak (Professor at Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey) was the recipient of the 2007 Crawford Fund Derek Tribe Award in recognition of his outstanding work and leadership in identifying zinc deficiency as the underlying cause of poor wheat yields in the calcareous soils of the Central Anatolia in Turkey.
Dr Cakmak led the rapid uptake of Zn-containing NP and NPK fertilizers by farmers in the region and their development by fertilizer industries. The application of this discovery has led to impressive increases in grain yield in Central Anatolia. In some locations with extremely low plant available zinc in soils, zinc application enhanced grain yield up to 6-fold. As a result of the diagnosis of Zn deficiency as a critical constraint to wheat production in Central Anatolia, the total amount of Zn-containing NPK-fertilizers applied in Turkey rose from zero in 1995 to a record level of 350 000 tonnes per annum. In addition to improvements in cereal productivity and farmers profits, the application of Zn fertilizers has provided Zn-dense grain to people with low incomes in Turkey and is predicted to lead to improvements in their health, productivity, and mental development and in their livelihoods.