Fertilizer: It’s Not A World Away

As we move into the time when fall harvests become a topic of focus, all eyes are on the effects of the U.S. drought. USDA recently reported that this year’s drought is the most serious since 1988. As a frame of reference, nationwide losses from the U.S. drought of 1988 exceeded $40 billion, exceeding the losses caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the Mississippi River floods of 1993 and the San Francisco earthquake in 1989.

Against the backdrop of the U.S.’ drought is what is reported to be a dramatic increase in world food prices that some experts believe will evolve into a “chronic food crisis,” which is likely to last for many years to come. With a growing population that is increasingly demanding an improved diet that includes meat and other proteins, the food supply will have to grow by 40% to 60% by 2050 if we want to feed all of the world’s people.

Global food demand is outstripping the world’s ability to produce food, which is leading to a dramatic increase in food prices. Today, world grain stocks are at record lows, with consumption exceeding production in consecutive years. If growers stopped growing food today, storage bins around the world would quickly be depleted.

Dealing With Limits

Our options for increasing food production are limited both by the supply of land and water. Either we must place more acres into cultivation, increase current yields or both. While available arable land is growing in areas of the world such as Brazil, it is shrinking in other regions such as China. In the U.S. alone, more than a million acres of agricultural land are lost to development or other uses each year.

Both here in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, fertilizer must be part of the solution. It is estimated that fertilizer alone is responsible for 50% of the world’s food production. Accomplishing this essential task of growing more on less land must be done with care for the environment. In the words of Nobel Peace Prize winner, the late Norman Borlaug: “This is a basic problem, to feed 6.6 billion people. Without chemical fertilizer, forget it. The game is over.”

This is not the fertilizer industry speaking, rather they are powerful words from a distinguished man who spent a lifetime working with farmers in developed countries to increase food production through modern agricultural practices.

Agricultural aid groups that are currently in operation recognize the value of fertilizer as well. The One Acre Fund is working in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi to put together a permanent, proven investment package for growers and their families, which doubles farm income by providing seeds and fertilizer, weekly farm education and market facilitation. Fertilizer use by growers is at the core of One Acre’s program.

Delegates at The Fertilizer Institute’s upcoming World Fertilizer Conference will hear first-hand from One Acre Fund Co-Founder Andrew Jung about the organization and its efforts to ensure that fertilizer is part of the path to farmer sustainability.

While global food production and agricultural aid may literally seem a world away from your work with your customers, you have an essential role to play. By its leadership, agriculture in the U.S. can set a living example for growers around the world. The principles of 4R Nutrient Stewardship (use of the right fertilizer source at the right rate, at the right time and in the right place) are applicable at all levels of farming — from the sophisticated agriculture guided by precision practices to the most basic farming in less developed agriculture systems.

It is our hope that when the U.S.-based aid organizations that serve growers in the developing world see the environmental, economic and social value of 4R nutrient stewardship, they will work to implement this system as part of their own efforts.

Leave a Reply

Fertilizer Stories

Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
FertilizerCF Nitrogen Investment: What It Means For CHS
August 13, 2015
A record $2.8 billion investment in nitrogen fertilizer manufacturing through CF Industries Nitrogen, LLC, is a historic step that links Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
FertilizerCF Industries, CHS To Form Strategic Venture
August 12, 2015
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. and CHS Inc. announced today that they have agreed to enter into a strategic venture.  CHS, Read More
Top 100 Articles
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Iowa Cooperatives To Explore Unification
August 19, 2015
The boards of directors at two of Iowa’s leading farmer-owned cooperatives yesterday signed a letter of intent to study the Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Hosting Drone Flight This Friday
August 3, 2015
Southern States Cooperative — No. 9 on the CropLife 100 — is hosting an FAA-approved drone demonstration at Grandview Farms Read More
CropLife 100Aligned Ag Distributors Adds Four New Owners
July 30, 2015
Aligned Ag Distributors LLC has announced the addition of four new customer/owners to Franklin Holding Co. LLC. They are: The Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Purchases California-Based Specialty Crops Retailer
July 20, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings has successfully acquired California-based NH3 Service Co.  Operating as part of Pinnacle’s Performance Agriculture brand, the new locations Read More
Asmus Farm Supply liquid fertilizer facility features 20,000 square feet
CropLife 100Slideshow: Asmus Farm Supply Shows Off Its New Liquid Fertilizer Facility
July 15, 2015
Asmus Farm Supply, Rake, IA, recently added a new liquid fertilizer facility to its company operations. The new liquid fertilizer Read More
Latest News
Young soybean field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Announces New Business Unit Head For…
September 1, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America announces the addition of Rico Christensen, Business Unit Head, North America. Christensen will have responsibility for Read More
Wilbur Ellis Pink Soybean Seed Treatment
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Goes Pink With Soybean Seed Treatments For…
September 1, 2015
This past year, proceeds of pink-dyed soybeans treated and sold to Wilbur-Ellis seed customers in Chester, SD, went to two Read More
SprayersNORAC Active Wing Roll Slated For More Sprayers
September 1, 2015
NORAC Systems, a member of the Topcon Positioning Group, announces the release of Active Wing Roll for RoGator, Apache, New Read More
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More