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

Sulfur Deficiency In Corn
Crop InputsManaging Sulfur Deficiency In Corn
January 6, 2017
Corn sulfur (S) deficiency is a growing problem in and across North Dakota, according to an article on the NDSU Read More
AFS Seed Retailer and Grower
Crop InputsThis Is Not Your Father’s World Of Nitrogen Management
January 6, 2017
Many of us older citizens can remember times when our fathers toiled day and night, to coax meager crop yields Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerPotassium Needs More Attention In Crop Nutrition
January 6, 2017
It’s well understood that plants require the right combination of the 14 essential mineral nutrients to sustain their growth, writes Read More
FertilizerSulfur: The 4th Major Nutrient
January 6, 2017
Sulfur is an essential nutrient in crop production. It is classified as a secondary element, along with Mg and Ca, Read More
Trending Articles
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Latest News
Eric SfiligojNo Alternative Facts: Dicamba Cropping System Applicato…
January 23, 2017
During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much fuss was made over the use of the term “alternative facts” vs. some of Read More
Young Corn Plants
ManagementTimac Agro USA Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
January 20, 2017
Timac Agro USA, an agriculture supply company specializing in high-efficiency plant and animal nutrition products, has acquired St. Louis,MI-based A&E Ag, Read More
Soybean field
Crop InputsNufarm Teams Up With John Deere Financial
January 19, 2017
Nufarm and John Deere Financial have teamed up to help farmers grow a better tomorrow. This program helps make purchases Read More
Sonny Perdue
LegislationTrump Formally Picks Perdue As Agriculture Secretary
January 19, 2017
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump officially announced Sonny Perdue as his choice for secretary of agriculture on Thursday, selecting a former Read More
ManagementPresident Trump, Wisconsin Review, and a Dow-DuPont Upd…
January 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj reflect on a new administration, a recent winter show, and crop protection company mergers. Read More
Industry NewsBayer, MS Technologies Get China Approval For Balance G…
January 18, 2017
MS Technologies and Bayer have received import approval from China for Balance GT soybeans. The new Balance GT Soybean Performance Read More
Werner Baumann, Bayer AG, and Hugh Grant, Monsanto
Industry NewsReport: Monsanto, Bayer CEOs Among Latest to Make Trump…
January 18, 2017
The chief executive officers of German chemical giant Bayer AG and U.S. seed behemoth Monsanto, Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant, Read More
Giant Ragweed
HerbicidesStudy: Focusing On Weed Seedbank Can Help Manage Herbic…
January 18, 2017
Researchers writing in the latest issue of the journal Weed Science provide important insights on the control of herbicide-resistant giant Read More
Management3 Financial Trends To Watch In Agriculture
January 17, 2017
I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of credit managers for Midwest ag supply and input companies, in part Read More
Andersons Retail Store
CropLife 100The Andersons To Close All Retail Stores; Shutdown Does…
January 16, 2017
In a stunning announcement to the Toledo area, The Andersons Inc. said on Sunday that it would close its two Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojPrecision To Lead Agriculture In 2017?
January 16, 2017
Another new year is upon us! And I’m certain I speak for many in the agricultural world when I say Read More
Corn
Eric SfiligojThe Mood From Madison? In A Holding Pattern
January 16, 2017
Last week, I had the chance to attend the annual Wisconsin AgriBusiness Classic show in Madison, WI. It’s been a Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsAccenture Helps Syngenta Transform Its Global Logistics
January 13, 2017
Syngenta, a leading agriculture company, has collaborated with Accenture to design and implement a new digital logistics operating model across Read More
Fall Creek Seth Harden The Nature Conservancy
StewardshipLocal Farmers’ Watershed Initiative: Continuous Improve…
January 13, 2017
The goal in the Big Pine Watershed Project is to more intentionally do what local farmers and responsible ag retailers Read More
HerbicidesEPA Expands Enlist Duo Herbicide Registration To 34 Sta…
January 13, 2017
The U.S. EPA has expanded the geography for application of Enlist Duo herbicide from 15 to 34 states. This means Read More
Olson Ag Enterprise
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Nebraska Seed Retailer
January 13, 2017
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
ManagementDeere-Precision Planting Update and the Ag Secretary Wa…
January 12, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj provide the latest on the court date for John Deere/Precision Planting and the quest Read More
Monsanto sign
Seed/BiotechMonsanto, NRGene Form Agreement For Big Data Genomic An…
January 12, 2017
Monsanto Co. and NRGene have announced that the companies have reached a non-exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement on NRGene’s genome-analysis Read More