Based on correlations calculated from the database of long-term fertilization experiments carried out in Hungary between 1960 and 2000, a new, cost-saving, and environmentally friendly fertilizer recommendation system was developed. The aim of the new system is to apply the lowest possible nitrogen (N)–phosphorus (P)–potassium (K) rates required to achieve good yields and maximum income per unit area. The World Phosphorus Institute (IMPHOS) agreed to finance a 3-year program to test various Hungarian fertilizer recommendation systems (the new RISSAC-RIA [Research for Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry‐Research Institute for Agriculture] system, the Talajerőgazdálkodás integrated soil fertility management system, and the intensive MÉM NAK [Department of Plant Protection and Agricultural Chemistry of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture] system) when applied to three major crops grown on three characteristic Hungarian soils. The first five treatments in the experiment represented a classical deficiency experiment, aimed at checking the correctness of the NPK supply categories determined by the various systems. On all three soils and for all three crops the IMPHOS experiments confirmed the basic principles of the new cost-saving, environmentally friendly fertilizer recommendation system and the correctness of the methods used for calculating fertilizer rates. In this article, diagnostic plant analysis, soil analysis data, and NPK balances obtained in the different recommendations are discussed. In most cases the plant NPK contents of all the recommendations exceeded the lower limits of the good NPK supply category for wheat and barley shoot as well as for corn leaf. Crop NPK contents in Talajerőgazdálkodás and MÉM NAK treatments (with greater recommended NPK doses) were most cases better than in the RISSAC-RIA treatments; however, the better crop NPK status did not result in extra grain yield in the former treatments. Taking into account that similarly high yields were obtained using the RISSAC-RIA system and the Talajerőgazdálkodás integrated system with much smaller NPK doses than those recommended by the intensive MÉM NAK system, it was more advantageous from agronomic, environmental protection, and economic points of view. Differences in PK balances correlated well with the differences in the measured soil ammonium lactate (AL)–PK contents after the third year of the experiment.