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Assignment on

Name: Purti Nevgi
Roll no: AO 73
Fertilizers are soil amendments applied to promote plant growth; the main nutrients present
in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (the 'macronutrients') and other nutrients
('micronutrients') are added in smaller amounts. Fertilizers are usually directly applied to soil,
and also sprayed on leaves.

Fertilizers are roughly broken up between organic and inorganic fertilizer, with the main
difference between the two being sourcing, and not necessarily differences in nutrient

Type of Fertilizer
Fertilizers come in various shapes and forms. The most typical form is granular fertilizer
(powder form), usually come in a bag / box. The next most common form is liquid fertilizer;
some advantages of liquid lawn fertilizer are its immediate effect and wide coverage.
Moreover, there is also a form of slow-release fertilizer which solves the problem of
"burning" the plants due to excessive nutrients. This kind of fertilizer comes in various forms
like fertilizer spikes, tabs, etc. Finally, organic fertilizer is on the rise as people are resorting
to green / environmental friendly products. Although organic fertilizer usually contains fewer
nutrients, some people still prefer organic due to natural ingredients.

Fertilizers typically provide, in varying proportions:

• the three primary macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K).
• the three secondary macronutrients: calcium (Ca), sulphur (S), magnesium (Mg).
• and the micronutrients or trace minerals: boron (B), chlorine (Cl), manganese (Mn),
iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se).

Prices of fertilizers
Fertilizer prices for the entire country are set by the government agencies. Table 10 shows the
official price of fertilizers during the period 1995 to 1999.
Although the official price of fertilizers did not change, the exchange rate of the Syrian
Pound (SL) did change, especially the Government free rate (Table 11).
Information on fertilizer prices in the parallel market is limited and sketchy, with estimated
figures ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent above official prices. One of the most
important factors affecting the parallel market price is rainfall. With higher rainfall, farmers’
demand for fertilizer increases. For example, during exceptionally good years, it is possible
for the market price to be 50 percent higher than official prices. In contrast, the margin
between market and official prices can be less than 5 percent in dry years. Farmers may
reduce their fertilizer use if they face two consecutive dry years, and very few of them then
buy additional fertilizer from the parallel market.

Table 10
Official fertilizer prices, 1995 to 1999, (Syrian pounds*)

Fertilizer type Lira per kg

Triple superphosphate, 46% 8.3

Calcium ammonium nitrate, 26% 5.4

Urea, 46% 7.7

Ammonium nitrate, 33.5% 6.0

Potassium sulphate, 50% 12.1

* The official prices remained unchanged from 1995 to 1999.

Table 11
Exchange rates of the Syrian pound (SL per US$).

Exchange rate 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998

Government free rate 23.00 23.00 23.00 45.00 46.00

Market rate 51.20 50.00 51.00 51.00 51.00

Offi cial 11.25 11.25 11.25 11.25 11.25

Another important determinant of the quantity of fertilizer demanded from the parallel market
is fertilizer availability from official channels. Since demand on this market represents
aggregate excess demand, any increase in fertilizer availability that reduces fertilizer
shortages at the farm level reduces demand in the parallel market. Lastly, increases in
agricultural product prices (official or market prices) also increase farmers’ demand for
The Government has created a number of wholesale agencies, which buy directly from
farmers or cooperatives, and sell to retailers or industrial users. Table 12 summarizes the
average prices paid to farmers by Government marketing agencies.
Fruits, vegetables, dry broad beans, livestock, poultry, and animal products are the main
products on the wholesale free market in the Syrian Arab Republic. Table 13 gives the
wholesale prices of major agricultural products, from 1994 to 1998.
Phosphorus fertilizer comes from phosphate rock
• 142 million tons was mined worldwide in 2006
• Phosphate deposits are concentrated in the United States (FL), China, Morocco and Russia
• Due to the soaring demand for phosphorus fertilizer, the price of one ton of diammonium
phosphate (a fertilizer that also contains nitrogen) "jumped to $1,102 a ton from $393 a ton in
the last year"


Global demand for potash stood at around 60 million tons a year and was growing at around
3 percent a year as more farmland is diverted away from food production to growing crops
for energy

Potash price rises more than 300 % (April 2008)

• TORONTO - Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. said Wednesday that the marketing
company for Saskatchewan potash producers and a leading fertilizer company in China have
agreed to set potash pricing this year at about $576 US a tonne, some $400 higher than
last year
• As millions of Chinese join the middle class, their diets are changing to include meat and
dairy products. This has in turn spurred demand for grains to feed livestock. As grain
production rises, so does demand for fertilizer and the potash used to make it.
• The new price for potash shipped to China will rise to about $576 per tonne at the Port of
Vancouver, said Potash director of investor relations Denita Stann.

Global Fertilizer Supply and Demand

• Since the beginning of this decade U.S. fertilizer, particularly Nitrogen
has increasingly come from foreign sources. See Chart 1 for Nitrogen

• U.S. will import approximately 57 percent of its Nitrogen needs in 2008.

See Chart 2 for import details in 2007.
• U.S. now imports over 70% of our urea, with the Middle East as the
main supplier.
• India has been on a surge buying spree, in 2008 they are expected to
import 6.2 mmt of urea
• Ocean freight rate increases are adding at least $50/mt to the cost of


• U.S. is predominately self sufficient in Phosphate fertilizers.

• Global sulfur stocks are very tight and prices at an all time high. China
is increasing sulfur production. Sulfur is a key ingredient in DAP/MAP
• IFIA estimates global phosphoric acid (P2O5) demand increased 5
percent in 2006/07 and should increase an additional 3 percent in
2007/08, or the equivalent of 1.2 mmt with total consumption over 40
• U.S. exports of phosphates will to drop to approximately 6 mmt in
• China which typically exports phosphates, instituted an export tariff on
phosphate fertilizer.
• Approximately 700,000 acres will be taken out of set-aside programs in
the EU, increasing phosphate demand by 10 percent in 2008.
• Brazil phosphate demand increased 58% in 2007.

• Australia’s emergence from the drought resulted in a 35 percent

increase in fertilizer demand in 2007, an additional 28% increase is
expected in 2008.


• Potash production will rise in 2009 with 9 new projects underway in

North America. However problems in Saskatchewan and Russia, along
with depletions in Europe will limit increased production.
• The weak US dollar and parity with the Canadian dollar has lead to
price increase.
• In 2007 the U.S. imported over 9.9 mmt of Potassium Chloride (KCl),
93% of this came from Canada, and the remainder came from Belarus
or Russia.

Environmental Hazards Due to Fertilizers

Land Pollution from Fertilizer

“Fertilizers are indispensable for ensuring [agricultural] sustainability...nitrogen, sulfur, and

potassium fertilizers are relatively free of impurities, but phosphorus (P) fertilizers...contain
several contaminants...” states an article, dated 2008, titled, “Pasture Soils Contaminated with
Fertilizer-Derived Cadmium and Fluorine: Livestock Effects" (Reviews of Environmental
Contamination and Toxicology, v. 192).
The article is about a fertilizer study by the Fertilizer and Lime Research Center, Institute of
Natural Resources, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. The authors are
Loganathan P, Hedley MJ, and Grace ND.
Fertilizers & Food Safety
According to the fertilizer study phosphorus fertilizers are used mainly for commercial bean
and pea pasture production. The two contaminants from phosphorus fertilizers of most
concern, according to the study, are cadmium (Cd) and fluorine (F).
Groundwater Pollution From Phosphorus Fertilizers
Fluorine and cadmium could pose a shallow groundwater risk, according to the Massey
University article. Cadmium contamination in “very acidic soils containing low organic
matter” can pollute shallow groundwater. Fluorine contamination in “very acidic low-P fixing
soils” can pollute shallow groundwater. The article states that there is insufficient research to
determine the effects of permanent low levels of Cd and F on “soil microbial activity.”
Causes of Water Pollution
Groundwater or surface water can be polluted by “point-source or non-point-source
pollution,” according to an (author unknown) article, dated 3/10/2009, titled
“Fertilizer/Pesticide Contamination.” The article is by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and published on their web site. Pollution of water from a point source occurs
where the fertilizer and pesticide, or other types of land pollution, exists in soil. Non point
source pollution is caused “...such as the movement of fertilizers into streams...runoff.”
The EPA article states that fertilizers and pesticides can travel through water systems or leach
straight down from the soil surface. The EPA says about non point source pollution
“...pesticides and fertilizers can be carried great distances off-site.”
The Massey University fertilizer study concludes that additional study is needed to find
solutions to phosphorous fertilizer soil contamination. The study recommends computer
models be developed to assess farms at high risk for cadmium and fluorine pollution from
fertilizer. The EPA article states that fertilizer and pesticide contamination can leach down to
groundwater, or be carried by ditches, streams, and other water systems, to pollute land at
remote areas from the source.

Phosphate fertilizers & water pollution

Phosphates are a major source of pollution in lakes and streams, and high phosphate levels
support over-production of algae and water weeds. However, many of us have
misconceptions regarding the source of polluting phosphates, and many homeowners
unknowingly contribute to the problem.
Lawn and Garden fertilizers often are implicated as the major source of phosphate pollution.
However, research clearly demonstrates that with proper application, fertilizer does not
pollute. When phosphates are applied to soils, they quickly bind to soil particles, much like a
magnet picks up paper clips. Soil-bound phosphates contribute to pollution only when soil
erosion occurs. Research studies found little or no difference in the phosphate content of
storm runoff from lawn fertilizers with and without phosphate.
Problems arise, however, when fertilizer is over-spread or spilled onto hard surfaces like
streets, driveways and sidewalks. Here, the phosphate washes with rain through the storm
drains into lakes and rivers.
Likewise, grass clippings and leaves that fall on hard surfaces release their phosphorous into
water sources. Research studies indicate that 80 percent of the phosphorous from urban
settings comes from lawn clippings and leaves that end up in street gutters. While a few grass
clippings mowed into the street look rather innocent, collectively they have a major impact
on our water quality. Using a mulching lawn mower to keep lawn clippings on your lawn is
especially useful.
Another important source of phosphate pollution comes from soil erosion caused by water or
wind. When soil moves, it takes the soil-bound phosphates with it. Construction sites and
sparsely vegetated ground also cause erosion.
You can take an active part in protecting Colorado's water quality by keeping fertilizers,
leaves and grass clippings off streets and driveways. Prevent soil erosion by planting slopes
with grass or other plants. We all have a part in protecting our water, one of Colorado's most
valuable resources!

Problems Caused by Nitrogen Pollution of Surface Waters

There are three water quality concerns associated with different forms of nitrogen. First, the
combined concentrations of nitrate (NO3 ) plus nitrite (NO2 ) in excess of 10 mgNL can
contribute to methemoglobinanemia (“blue baby syndrome”) in infants if ingested.[1] To
guard against this, the U.S. Public Health Service limits nitrate plus nitrite concentration in
public drinking water supplies to 10mgNL . Secondly, unionized ammonia (NH3) may be
toxic to fish at concentrations as low as 0.02 mgNL . Finally, elevated total nitrogen
concentrations (including nitrate, ammonia, and organic forms) in rivers can promote the
process of cultural eutrophication in coastal waters, whereby increased production and
decomposition of algae, leads to reduced oxygen concentrations. This, in turn, may reduce
the abundance and diversity of marine life and may promote the outbreak of nuisance algae.[2]
Sources of N Pollution
Nitrogen contamination may come from a variety of sources: municipal sewage, animal
manure, atmospheric deposition, biological N fixation, soil organic N, and/or nitrogen
fertilizers. The consequences of contamination in a specific water body will depend upon the
amount of contamination from all sources and characteristics of the receiving waters. Shallow
rivers, wetlands, lakes, and reservoirs, have some capacity to remove nitrogen by microbial
denitrification. The susceptibility of estuaries and coastal waters to eutrophication depends on
temperature, availability of phosphorus and silica for algae production, and the rate of water
exchange with the open ocean.
The contribution of inorganic fertilizer to surface water N contamination increased after 1960
as the widespread and intensive use of inorganic N fertilizers rapidly expanded.[3] The use of
N fertilizer has allowed greater production of feed and food crops per unit area cultivated. In
the United States, 75% of N fertilizer is applied to maize, while in other countries, N fertilizer
is primarily used on wheat and rice. Prior to 1960, nitrogen for crop production was obtained
primarily by using crop rotations that included legumes such as clover and alfalfa, which can
establish a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria that can convert atmospheric N2 gas to
biologically available forms of N.
Commercial nitrogen fertilizer is primarily manufactured as gaseous ammonia (NH3), using
the Haber-Bosch process in which gaseous nitrogen is reacted with gaseous hydrogen under
pressure. The gaseous ammonia may be injected into the soil, which is a common fertilizer
application practice in the United States. Additionally, a wide variety of granular and aqueous
fertilizer products containing nitrogen are manufactured from manufactured ammonia.