Fertilizers are essential in producing enough food for our growing population. Increasing demand for food puts both pressure on specialty agriculture and impacts the environment. How can we increase food production to meet that growing demand? And how can we do this with less agricultural land and less impact on the environment? ICL is working on this every day. Anthony Zanelli, Chair of Meststoffen Nederland (Dutch fertilizer industry sector organization) explained this issue to the Financieel Dagblad, and emphasized on the ICL innovations that offer solutions for this.
Efficient use of fertilizers
Nitrogen and potassium are frequently used nutrients in specialty agriculture. Despite the fact that these are important fertilizer constituents, a large proportion of the released nutrients are not utilized by the plant. This is why it is essential to optimize mineral fertilizer efficiency for sustainable specialty agricultural production. Specialty agricultural land is becoming scarcer in the Netherlands, partly due to house building, and we will need to produce more using less agricultural land. In this case, efficiency means increasing yields while using less land and preferably also less fertilizer, and reducing losses and leaching into the environment.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that nitrogen losses to the environment are considerably lower when using controlled release fertilizers. Moreover, these kinds of fertilizers are more efficient in use, which also increases yield and quality.
ICL is also focusing on fertigation worldwide. Climate change and the resulting water shortages hinder good crop growth. Fertigation is a technique that uses drip irrigation with crop fertilizer, enabling optimal release to the crop containing a small amount of water combined with vital nutrients, such as potassium and phosphate.
Controlled release fertilizers
Controlled release fertilizers have a coating that ensures that nutrients are only released when the plant needs them. This gradual process provides the plant with nutrition for up to a year, and fertilizers only need to be applied once instead of four times a year.
Controlled release fertilizers use up to 40% less fertilizer than conventional fertilizers. Moreover, all nutrients are actually utilized by the plant, which means there is less leaching of nitrogen and other substances into the environment
Various research studies have also demonstrated that the use of controlled release fertilizers results in stronger, healthier plants and an equal or even higher yield with lower fertilizer use.
Reducing the carbon footprint
Using controlled release fertilizers reduces the carbon footprint. Research from ICL has demonstrated that the controlled release fertilizer Agromaster reduces environmental impact. Using Agromaster fertilizer per 10,000 hectares of farmland reduces the carbon footprint by a value equivalent to:
- 1,496 trips around the globe in an average car
- Planting 387,664 trees
- The annual CO2 emissions of 1,108 European citizens