College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture

Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool launches nationwide to digitize crop nutrient management


Bhupinder Farmaha, a Clemson nutrient management specialist, spreads fertilizer in an Edisto REC field.
As part of the FRST project, Bhupinder Farmaha, a Clemson nutrient management specialist, spreads fertilizer in an Edisto REC field for an on-farm evaluation of South Carolina cotton potassium recommendations.
Download image

FRST (Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool) project partners announce the nationwide release of this decision-aid that provides unbiased, science-based interpretations of soil test phosphorus and potassium values for crop fertilization.

The FRST project is a collaboration of over 100 soil science and agronomic professionals representing nearly 50 universities, four divisions of the USDA, several not-for-profit organizations, and one private sector partner. This diverse partnership underscores the collective effort and expertise invested in the development of FRST.

Clemson University is represented on the project by Shannon Alford, Agricultural Service Lab director, and Bhupinder Farmaha, nutrient management specialist at the Edisto Research and Education Center in Blackville, South Carolina.

Headshot of Shannon Alford, Clemson University Agricultural Service Laboratory director
Shannon Alford

“We are extremely excited about the launch of the decision support tool,” Alford said. “FRST was developed in response to the pressing need to harmonize soil testing across state boundaries.”

The new web-based tool represents a significant advancement in soil testing for phosphorus and potassium and nutrient management that uses data from across the United States with the hope of potentially saving farmers millions of dollars annually while reducing excess nutrient losses to the environment.

“This tool represents an improvement in our ability to evaluate soil test correlation,” Farmaha said.

Deanna Osmond, soil science researcher at North Carolina State University, is one of the group’s leaders.

Bhupinder Farmaha
Bhupinder Farmaha

“Until now, soil fertility faculty in each state worked independently,” Osmond said. “But for farmers who work across state lines, it’s difficult to compare or assimilate multi-state guidelines. Our goal is to improve the accuracy of nutrient recommendations through independent, scientifically-developed nutrient management best practices that farmers can believe in and adopt.”

Currently, FRST provides critical phosphorus and potassium soil test values. Critical soil test values indicate where there is no expected yield increase from phosphorus or potassium fertilizer application. In the next phase, the FRST will provide research-based phosphorus or potassium rate response information to assist farmers in selecting the minimum fertilizer rate expected to produce maximal crop yield.

The current version (FRST v1.0) includes data from nearly 2,500 phosphorus and potassium trials for 21 major agricultural crops, with the majority as corn and soybean.

The FRST includes a map of the United States that shows the location of phosphorus and potassium trials represented in the database and can be used to identify where the need for additional research data is greatest. 

The database was constructed from both historical and current research data and includes trials from 40 states and Puerto Rico. The team has plans to expand to other crops, cropping systems, and other nutrients, such as sulfur.

Key features of FRST include:

  • Data-Driven: FRST utilizes a dynamic database of soil test correlation data that is constantly updated to improve testing confidence.
  • Crop Specific: The database currently covers 21 major commodity crops.
  • Geographically Diverse: Includes published and unpublished trial data from 40 states and Puerto Rico.
  • Unbiased: Blended data removes political and institutional bias in soil test interpretation.
  • Scientifically Sound: Data represents a minimum dataset that provides reliable outcomes.

Nathan Slaton, soil science researcher at University of Arkansas and a leader on the project, noted that “The FRST project has accomplished two really important objectives to advance phosphorus and potassium management for crop production. The first was developing a national database to archive soil test correlation and calibration research ensuring that research information that supports crop fertilization recommendations is not lost as scientists retire. The second is providing a tool that anyone can use to review the research results relevant to their crop, soils, and geographic area to check their soil-test-based fertilizer recommendations. “

Hosted in a neutral space with common access, FRST fosters collaboration and innovation in soil fertility research, paving the way for future advancements in nutrient management.

Greg Buol of North Carolina State University who provided database and programming support stated, “the design of FRST has always been focused on the end user being able to easily use the tool and understand the results.”

Alford agrees.

“We believe that FRST will not only benefit farmers by improving farm economics and conservation practices but also contribute to global sustainability,” she said.  

For more information about FRST and how it can transform nutrient management in soils, visit and click on “Tool”.

Funding for the FRST project is provided by the USDA-NRCS including the Conservation Innovation Grants, USDA-ARS, and USDA-NIFA, and OCP North America.

FRST project contacts

  • Shannon Alford, Agricultural Service Laboratory director, Regulatory Services, Clemson University

  • Bhupinder Farmaha, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences associate professor, Clemson University

  • Deanna Osmond, soil science professor, North Carolina State University

  • Nathan Slaton, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station assistant director, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture

Want to Discuss?

Get in touch and we will connect you with the author or another expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.