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

Darin Lickfeldt Verdesian In Field
Crop InputsVerdesian: Sustainability Goes Hand in Hand with Profits
July 25, 2017
Sustainability is a hot topic in agriculture these days. And while measuring sustainability and its on-farm impact can seem difficult Read More
Soil soybean closeup
FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applications?
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
corn-potassium-deficiency-University-of-Minnesota-Extension
Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
Trending Articles
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Lindsay Corp.
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
Latest News
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Iowa-State-Seed-Science-Center
Seed/BiotechIowa State Celebrates 10 Years of Online Seed Education
July 26, 2017
This year, Iowa State University is celebrating 10 years of service to the seed industry through its online Graduate Program Read More
Corn seed treatment
Seed/Biotech5 Steps for Stewardship of Treated Seed
July 26, 2017
With planting season just around the corner, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) reminds farmers to follow five basic steps Read More
Darin Lickfeldt Verdesian In Field
Crop InputsVerdesian: Sustainability Goes Hand in Hand with Profit…
July 25, 2017
Sustainability is a hot topic in agriculture these days. And while measuring sustainability and its on-farm impact can seem difficult Read More
Crop InputsBASF: In Arkansas Drift Cases, Buffer Zones Mostly Not …
July 24, 2017
BASF on Thursday addressed questions about spreading dicamba drift issues on a media briefing call. In Arkansas – which is Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Linds…
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Eric SfiligojThe 2017 Ambassadors of Respect Come from Around the Gl…
July 24, 2017
After a week of fun, enjoying food, sights, and company information, DuPont Crop Protection representatives and their Environmental Respect guests Read More
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
TMX-2050-In-Cab-Display-Launch-Run-Screen
EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More