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The future of phosphate rock

Bayovar 12 project in Peru
European Union ETS update |Fertilizer
Brazilian freight
FOCUS logistics | Precision
| JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 nutrient management
2 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018
4 EU ETS update
5 The stabilization of nitrogen fertilizer
8 End-to-end nitrogen efficiency
14 News in brief
19 EU fertilizer regulations for biostimulants
22 EU regulations for organic-based fertilizers
24 Price watch
28 Climate smart fertilizer management
32 Controlled release fertilizers
36 Conference preview:
Argus Added Value Fertilizers Europe 2018


38 The Brazilian fertilizer market
44 Evolution of fertilizer production in Brazil
48 The future of phosphate rock and Focus
Venture's phosphate rock mining project in Peru

52 Specific crop requirements in Argentina

55 Fertilizer logistics in Brazil

60 Improving crop productivity in India

64 Shipping & freight news
67 Fertilizer additives
70 People & events
71 Manganese focus

Fertilizer Focus
Lacon House, 84 Theobald's Road,
London, WC1X 8NL, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7780 4340 Front cover image:
Email: Geologist logging core;
Courtesy of Focus Ventures Ltd

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 3

European Union
ETS update
by Dr. Antoine Hoxha, Technical Director and
Leondina Della Pietra, Senior Scientific Officer, Fertilizers Europe
The European Union Emission Trading Scheme
(EU ETS) is the European trading scheme for EU average N2O emission rate
greenhouse gas launched by the EU Commission as
a reduction measure for greenhouse gas emissions
(GHG), consequence of the global warming of the
latest years. ETS affects most of the industrial
installations in the 28 Member States plus Iceland,
Liechtenstein and Norway. In order to comply with
ETS, each year companies have to declare the
greenhouse gases emitted during a period of time
established (so called ETS ‘phase’). Free allowances
are allocated for each ETS phase, and in order to
fulfill the requirements established for that phase
under the ETS Scheme whether the emissions
exceed the total number of free allowances, they
need to be bought. This is the main pillar of the
scheme, the so called ‘cap and trade’ principle. The carbon footprint of European ammonium nitrate fertilizer
Currently we are in phase ETS III (2013-2020) that outperforms production from other regions
covers for the first time the fertilizer industry. The main
sources of GHG emissions in production of fertilizers
are CO2 from ammonia plants (part of which is process
emissions) and N2O from nitric acid plants.
Political discussions for the next phase ETS IV (2021-
2030) started already in 2015. The fertilizer industry
has a special position in ETS as it is the sector most
exposed to carbon leakage. Indeed competitors in
other regions of the world will not face these costs and
production might shift outside EU.
The mineral fertilizer industry has been allocated a
significantly lower allowance balance relative to other
industrial sector, as a recent study by consultants
ECOFYS shows, and due to the fact that the target
imposed by the EU Commission in the phase ETS IV “However, I take some comfort from the fact that the result of the
(reduction of 40% in overall emissions) will be difficult trilogue negotiations concedes that some sectors cannot achieve
to meet, the fertilizers sector will be subject to a direct important emission reductions and therefore agreed on a lower
carbon cost automatic benchmark reduction rate of 0.2% yearly, thus implicitly
On top of this, the fertilizers industry has limited recognizing the physico-chemical limitations of our process,” says
technical opportunities to further reduce its emissions Jacob Hansen, Director General of Fertilizers Europe.
due to high level of process emissions in ammonia In parallel to legislative developments, Fertilizers Europe, European
production. On the nitric acid production, in the recent industry’s fertilizers association, has developed a Carbon Footprint
years, the EU fertilizers industry has invested in GHG Calculator (CFC) tool in order to help its members understanding the
emission reductions. The graph below shows the trade emissions scheme. The tool is available on line at http://app.
spectacular decrease in of N2O emissions over the last, freely accessible to everyone, on demand.
ten years of 90%. Therefore, the sector advocated it This tool allows users to estimates the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
should be clearly differentiated from other industries. generated during the fertilizer production, including both direct and
On 9 November 2017 the negotiators from the indirect emissions from energy supply. To give you an example, from
European Parliament, the Council and the European the graph below based on calculations using the verified CFC tool, CO2
Commission agreed on the new rules for this phase. emissions from fertilizer products in Europe are the lowest compared to
“We had brought forward the idea of a tiered other regions.
correction factor, in case there is a need, as the fairest The calculator has been validated by an independent third party.
solution for all industries. Despite having it reflected in Furthermore, footprints can also be certified via a ‘Certification Scheme’
the European Parliament position, it did not survive the when footprints have to be publically used and communicated for legal
negotiations in the trialogue”, explains Jacob Hansen, reporting, social responsibility reports and/or for food chain reporting and
Director General of Fertilizers Europe. “I regret that.” communication purposes.

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The stabilization
of nitrogen fertilizer
by Calum Findlay, Fertilizer Manager, Gleadell Agriculture

Stabilized nitrogen products are This excess ammonium is at risk of a step further when it developed
starting to gain momentum in the being lost to the environment through Alzon 46, incorporating a nitrification
European marketplace. Larger volatilization, where ammonium is inhibitor into urea fertilizer.
merchants are backing the products converted to ammonia gas and lost to
and farmers are becoming persuaded the atmosphere. However, ammonium
of the role stabilized fertilizers can is relatively short-lived in the soil. It High efficiency
play in reducing nitrogen losses from is readily converted by Nitrosomanas This inhibitor reduces the rate of
volatilization and leaching. bacteria to nitrite, which is conversion of ammonium, which is
subsequently converted to nitrate by relatively stable, to nitrate. It also means
Keeping more nutrients where they are
another group of bacteria, Nitrobacter. smaller amounts of nitrate are released
needed enables plants to exploit more,
This process is known as nitrification. over a given period, which evens out
improving yields and quality and
benefiting the environment. Nitrate is readily available to plants supply and leads to a high efficiency of
but is also highly mobile. If the rate nitrogen (N) use by the crop.
Urea fertilizers tend to be more prone
of nitrification is too high, large
to these losses than other forms of
quantities of nitrate can build up,
nitrogen fertilizer, especially at warmer
resulting in luxury uptake by plants,
temperatures and/or high levels of
which can be damaging and wasteful.
Such quantities can also easily be
leached through the soil profile and
Why do these losses out of reach of the plants. They are
occur? also readily converted by denitrifying
bacteria into gaseous nitrogen or
Once fertilization has taken place,
nitrous oxide, which can also be lost to
the urea in the soil is converted into
the atmosphere.
ammonium through a process called
hydrolysis. This is carried out by an Most stabilized ureas are coated with
enzyme called urease, which is present a urease inhibitor to delay conversion
in many soil-borne bacteria. of urea to ammonium. However, while
these products have been shown
Ammonium is a readily available
to have useful effects in reducing
source of nitrogen for plants. However,
ammonia emissions in warm climates
when temperatures are high, on light
like the US, or on very light sandy or (Above) Calum Findlay, Fertilizer Manager,
soils or where pH values in the soil Gleadell Agriculture
alkaline soils, the effect is usually short-
are higher than 7.5, it is possible that (Top) Stabilized urea fertilizer products
lived and only lasts one to three weeks.
the speed of conversion from urea to are well known in the US, but are now
ammonium can exceed the ability of SKW Piesteritz, based near Wittenberg making inroads in parts of Europe, notably
Germany and now the UK
soil particles to take up ammonium. in eastern Germany, took the process

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Alzon neo-N: how it works

The product maintains ammonium- applied at any one time without fear to 75%, and prevent ammonia losses
based plant nutrition for several of excess losses to the environment, almost completely.
weeks. The overall effect encourages potentially reducing the number of
root growth, reduces luxury uptake passes required to one for oilseed rape
and excess green matter production and one to two for cereals. Climate change and
and improves the availability of
This year, SKW Piesteritz has legislation
phosphorous and trace elements. This
taken the principle a step further. Stabilized products have been around
better efficiency is most marked in
It has combined both urease and for some years, especially in the US.
damp spring conditions when growers
nitrification inhibitors into a second- However, they are making inroads to
could potentially reduce rates.
generation stabilized nitrogen parts of Europe, notably Germany and
As well as improving nutrition, the fertilizer, called Alzon neo-N. now the UK.
nitrification inhibitor also benefits the
The manufacture of Alzon neo-N Although the UK continues to be a
environment by reducing both nitrate
began in early summer 2017. Sales more favourable location in terms of
leaching and gaseous N losses.
have, and will, remain mainly focused climate, temperatures are increasing,
Unlike many other products, the on Germany, but Gleadell is one of a while drought and extreme rainfall are
inhibitor is incorporated throughout small number of selected partners in becoming more commonplace during
the whole granule at manufacture, a few other countries where the new the growing season in particular.
rather than being applied as a coat. product will be marketed.
These changes mean that losses to
This means it carries on working,
The first cargo into the UK was unloaded the environment, plus the reduced
even when granules or prills are in the
at the end of October. The 3,200t availability of fertilizing nitrogen, are
advanced stages of breakdown.
shipment is the first of five booked to becoming an ever-greater problem
Depending on the weather and local the end of January 2018 to meet rising in relation to nitrogen efficiency and
conditions, the effect can last from demand for stabilized urea in the UK. adherence to legal regulations on air
four to 10 weeks. and water quality.
Trials have shown the product can
This creates an additional advantage reduce nitrate leaching by up to 50% Efficient nitrogen use is a major
on-farm in that more fertilizer can be and nitrous oxide emissions by up objective to ensure both economical

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SKW Piesteritz has combined both urease and nitrification inhibitors into a second- The first shipment to the UK of Alzon Neo-N was
generation stabilized nitrogen fertilizer unloaded at Immingham UK, in October 2017

and environmentally sound food

production. Crops require an adequate
The industry needs to ensure
supply of nitrogen, but any surplus that these products are used
constitutes a potential emission into
the environment.
Global greenhouse gas emission
targets are off track, so further
attention to address this is likely. Future policy could link agricultural farmers must either inject urea-based
Emerging technologies must be part of area support even more closely fertilizers or use ones that include
any national solution. towards best fertilizer practice an inhibitor to reduce ammonia
The UK has made its own through improvements to nutrient emissions.
commitments to tackling climate management, the type of fertilizer
Unlike Germany, UK growers can use
change, and the carbon budgets that used and application techniques.
ammonium nitrate as an alternative
have been set require steady progress Under the EU’s National Emissions nitrogen source and the potential
in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Ceiling Directive, updated in losses due to ammonia volatilization
December 2016, the UK has signed are minimal.
up to reducing five key pollutants,
EU directive including ammonia. Detailed within However, UK produced AN can
this, the Air Pollution Action Plan, due supply only 40% of domestic nitrogen
It is possible that even stronger
to be published in 2019, will include fertilizer requirements, so as a
policies are required to meet the
an ammonia code, which will contain farming nation the UK relies on a
ambitious targets set by the UK.
advice on how farmers can reduce considerable volume of imported
A government package due to be
emissions. product to satisfy demand.
introduced in April 2018 to help
farmers look after the environment Although voluntary, it will be The industry needs to ensure that
will reportedly include a GBP12 mn important that high levels of take- these products are used responsibly
farm ammonia reduction grant to up are seen to help the UK meet its and that includes minimising losses
help tackle agricultural emissions, commitments to avoid enforced to the environment, for which
suggesting the topic is firmly on regulation. In Germany, legislation stabilized ureas offer an obvious
Whitehall’s radar. is already in place, where from 2020 solution.

Gleadell Agriculture is an independent major trader of grain, seed and fertilizer based in Lincolnshire, UK. As well as being a
significant supplier of grains to UK and overseas grain consumers, the company has a seed portfolio that covers market-leading
varieties and is a growing force in the sourcing and delivery of home-produced and imported fertilizer.
Gleadell Agriculture has been working closely with SKW Piesteritz for the past 10 years and is sole agent for its products in the UK.

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by Jarrod Booker, External Communications Manager, AgResearch, New Zealand

Small and geographically isolated, abundance of sunshine, rainfall and of nitrogen to pastures to increase
with an export economy reliant on farmland for its year-round outdoor production and productivity. More
agriculture, New Zealand has sharply grazing of livestock. Government fertilizer in the right quantities on
grown its farming production and reforms in New Zealand in the 1980s paddocks meant more pasture to
wealth off the back of advances did away with direct agricultural support higher stocking rates of dairy
such as nitrogen fertilizer. But that subsidies, some farmers left cows.
growth over the years in production agriculture behind and the remaining
What researchers also realised early on
and intensity of pastoral farming farmers were left exposed to the global
was that with nitrogen application and
has brought with it big and unique free markets.
increasing intensity there would be
challenges, which the country is
Rather than wilting in the face of other issues arising from this change.
confronting head on with world-class
global competition, New Zealand The loss of nitrogen from the urine of
agricultural exports thrived as farmers, livestock into the soil and waterways
The South Pacific nation – home to supported by science led the way in and around farms, could impact
about 4.7 million people and tens of with innovation. Farmers seized the on the quality of waterways – creating
millions of sheep and cows - enjoys an research knowledge on the application environmental, social and cultural
implications. More animals meant
more urine and in turn more nitrogen
leaching into the soil and water that
could do damage.
“What this all means is that we have
to be committed to how we manage
nitrogen to maximise the efficiency
of our farms, while addressing the
environmental impacts that can
result from nitrate leaching,” says
AgResearch principal scientist Stewart
“There is an ongoing effort to seek
that greater efficiency and better
understand how to get the best value
out of nitrogen use. That means
understanding how farmland responds
to nitrogen fertilizer use and what is
the optimal use. Understanding the
Ron Pellow on the Lincoln University Dairy Farm
emissions of nitrogen from farming

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Mike and Sharon Barton on their farm (credit: Waikato Regional Council)

systems has been a key focus for

research, along with the potential to
It creates a huge challenge for
mitigate it and this has been essential mankind
to developing solutions for farmers.
Detailing how the nutrients emitted by
fertilizer and livestock interact with the
soils, landscapes and climate has also “The research being carried out by water visibility of 20 metres at its
been essential to predicting nitrogen AgResearch and other researchers centre. It features world class tourism
losses on the farm.” is fundamental to this work – it is attractions including the Huka Falls,
key to our industry being able to where 220,000 litres of water pour over
develop proven solutions for farmers a cliff face every second. However,
Farm practices to reduce nitrogen emissions from the lake is also sensitive to nitrogen,
The Fertilizer Association of New the farm system and respond to new presenting a risk of algal growth and
Zealand represents an industry driven environmental limits,” Dr Power says. declining water quality if intensive
by two main players, Ballance agri- agriculture is not managed carefully.
nutrients and Ravensdown, which When the focus came on the farms
are focused on delivering value for Facing up to the in the Lake Taupo catchment and the
their farmer-based shareholders. The environmental challenge impact of nitrogen emissions on the
Association’s chief executive Dr Vera Mike and Sharon Barton’s story is an water quality, change had to happen.
Power says one way they do this is by example of the real life challenge that In 2011, regulations were confirmed by
improving nitrogen efficiency so that has played out in the New Zealand the local regional council for farming
farmers can operate within the limits. context. and nitrogen emissions from the
catchment. Rather than sit back, the
“It’s all about maximising sustainable The couple farm beef cows on the
Bartons got involved.
profit – finding that balance where western shores of New Zealand’s
farming continues to be profitable largest lake – Lake Taupo. About the Speaking at a TEDx talk in New
while reducing the environmental size of Singapore, the pristine lake is Zealand last year, Sharon Barton said
impact of farm practices.” a UNESCO World Heritage Site with that while food production had to

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 9


Beef cows farmed near Lake Taupo

grow to meet the needs of a growing When change loomed for farmers in but New Zealand. The environmental
population, all food production leaves the Lake Taupo catchment, the Bartons cost of food production has never been
an environmental footprint on both actively engaged in science and policy built into the price you pay for food
land and waterways and that this to try to influence the outcome. and unlike other countries around the
creates a huge challenge for mankind. world, our food is not subsidised and
“Our farm has been the site of
numerous on-farm scientific research nor are our farmers.”
Mr Barton told the TEDx audience:
“So on the one hand, if we want projects looking at ways of minimising
to look after this environment, we the impacts of our farm systems on
can’t continue to intensify our food the environment. If legislation was Environmental
production systems and our farming. going to be passed to cap farming, guarantees
Yet if we need to feed that population, we needed to know it was going to be Faced with the cap on stock numbers
we must intensify.” workable.” and rising costs, the Bartons had to
Nitrogen emission allowances find a way to grow the value of the
“There is only so much that food
brought in meant a cap on livestock meat they produced.
producers can do to reduce that (the
environmental) impact. Sure, we in perpetuity. The Bartons’ farm was Mrs Barton told the audience: “The
can plant more trees, we can fence capped at their 2004 stock numbers idea of creating our own brand came
and they say it is unlikely they will ever about one morning when my husband
off waterways, riparian planting, we
increase those numbers.
can reduce intensification. But all said to me: `honey, if I were a tourist
of those things reduce our ability to Mrs Barton said: “From an fisherman from Montana USA and
produce food. Equally, if we stay in environmental point of view this is I’d spent the whole day trout fishing
the commodity food market, we are fantastic, yet from an economic one, on our beautiful Lake and amazed at
unlikely to remain financially viable.” this is a huge challenge. Not only to us, the pristine water quality, I’m sure if I

10 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


went back to my hotel that night to a
delicious meal, I would be prepared
After year one we were confident
to pay slightly more for a quality we could make the system work
product which also protected our
beautiful lake’.”
So in 2010, the Bartons started their
own beef brand sold at a premium to
account for the change. By providing Making gains in dairy its stock numbers to better match the
revised feed supply and set about to
environmental guarantees around farming achieve similar production from fewer
the product, it was trialled in local Down in the South Island of New stock by achieving more per animal.
restaurants at a cost of a few dollars Zealand - near New Zealand’s second Grazing rotations were changed and
more for a steak. It outsold the largest city of Christchurch, a dairy the farm benefited from the progress
alternatives on the menu despite the farm owned by Lincoln University it had made over recent years on
higher price. They are now business is showing how dairy farming can replacing older pastures with newer
award winners and successfully make similarly positive strides in cultivars.
selling their branded products reducing nitrate leaching into the
around New Zealand. environment. Like the Bartons’ beef
The OECD (Organisation for farm, the Lincoln University Dairy Plant response
Economic Co-operation and Farm had to find a new way forward as
The first year’s results clearly showed
Development) has since recognised it faced tighter regulation and greater
nitrogen fertilizer had not been
the quality of the environmental expectations regarding nitrogen losses
applied as efficiently as it could have
approach taken in the Lake Taupo on the farm.
been and when combined with longer
catchment. Ron Pellow, the executive director grazing rotations, demonstrated
The premium consumers were of the South Island Dairying greater plant responses to nitrogen
willing to pay was a true measure of Development Centre – which manages fertilizer were achievable.
their commitment to water quality, the farm on behalf of the university,
While the farm’s herd was reduced
Mr Barton told the audience: “Just recognises nitrogen losses from
from 630 cows to about 560, total milk
blaming the farmer is the easy way food production are the reality of
production has largely held up, as
out.” a biological system. Reductions in production per cow increased from
nitrate leaching were needed, but around 460kg of milk solids per cow, to
Dr Ledgard has worked closely with had to fit within the farm’s objectives
the Bartons over the years and has more than 500kg per cow.
of maximising sustainable profit
seen farmers in the Lake Taupo through increased productivity. As “After year one we were confident
catchment finding their own ways a demonstration farm, setting an we could make the system work,”
to adapt to the regulations that have example was also important. Mr Pellow says. “We learned some
come in. things in the first year that we needed
“Our prime reason for existence is to refine to make it work well for us.
In one case a farm switched to show other farmers what can be And subsequently in year’s two and
from cattle to milking sheep to achieved,” Mr Pellow says. “And if year three, we have achieved more
remain viable while meeting its we’re not performing at a high level, productivity and profitability, than
environmental limits, he says. then we have no reason for farmers what the initial research showed,
Dr Ledgard led a science programme to come and see what they can also while reducing our estimated nitrogen
that looked at farming practices achieve.” losses.”
and systems for farming in the Lake
In 2013/14, Mr Pellow and the farm’s Using the nutrient management tool
Taupo catchment and says despite
management team looked in detail Overseer (an input-output model
some ‘quite vocal’ meetings early on,
at the local component of a farm developed and owned by the New
farmers have by and large bought into
research programme called Pastoral 21 Zealand Government, AgResearch
the science and the need for change.
(P21), where AgResearch worked with and the Fertilizer Association), the
He is confident the approach is built the dairy industry and other partners. farm has been able to show a 25-28%
on good science and will see positive It was showing positive environmental reduction in nitrogen loss, from where
results for the lake, however it will gains while maintaining similar it had been to where it is now.
take time to see the results. profitability, but was set in a research
“That is in line with what our local
context and on a much smaller scale
“There are quite big time-lags on regulator requires of us in 2022. So
than the Lincoln University Dairy
the impact on water. It takes time we are actually achieving the future
Farm would require.
to move from the soil down into regulatory target four to five years
the groundwater and to the lake. So The farm took lessons from the P21 ahead of time. It’s satisfying from an
changes made are going to take a programme and scaled them up – it industry point of view to know that
couple of decades to show through in cut its nitrogen fertilizer and imported we have options - that we can largely
improved water quality.” feed use by about half, then reduced maintain productivity and profitability

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 11


Looking out over dairy farmland in Waikato region in New Zealand (credit: Greg Sneath)

and make the kind of reduction environment is driving nutrient losses “I see the point we’re at as an
in nitrogen loss that the wider down and we will continue to get more industry as being full of opportunity
community asks of us.” efficient in what we do.” and possibility,” Dr Power says.
“We may be a small country at
“In essence we have ratcheted up
the bottom of the world but the
the efficiency of our pasture based
system. We are now achieving levels
The way forward research coming out of here is
of productivity from our pasture and From a national perspective, the job world-leading. Whether the focus is
from our animals, fertilizers and is far from done and big challenges on water quality or climate change,
imported feeds that we didn’t realise remain for New Zealand’s agriculture the findings give us evidence-based
were achievable in the past. We’ve and environment. Whatever gains have knowledge to develop innovations
learnt from the research. We’ve applied been made to date on farms in New and solutions that meet the needs
it to this farm and we’ve shared it with Zealand, AgResearch and the Fertilizer of farmers - and New Zealand as a
farmers across the rest of New Zealand, Association remain committed to whole - from both a profitability and
so that a wider group of people are now pushing the boundaries through new environmental standpoint. It’s an
also much more efficient with their research. exciting position to be in.”
farm inputs and resources.”
Mr Pellow says the farm isn’t resting
on its laurels. There is always more
that can be done and research into
other grazing crops like plantain AgResearch is one of New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institutes and provides
present exciting possible opportunities the science to support and transform New Zealand’s agriculture sector.
for further reductions in nitrate The Fertilizer Association of New Zealand represents industry members Ballance
leaching. Agri-Nutrients and Ravensdown and is about industry working together to enable
value for farmers through shared delivery of knowledge, tools and resources.
“Additional research is always
required - to drive both year on The South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC) is a partnership between
year incremental gains from better Lincoln University, industry body DairyNZ, Ravensdown, LIC (Livestock Improvement
understanding of the current system Corporation), Plant and Food Research, AgResearch and the South Island Dairy
and the opportunities that are available Event.
within it - and into research that will Pastoral 21 is a collaborative research project involving DairyNZ, Fonterra, the Dairy
deliver further significant steps forward Companies Association of New Zealand, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Ministry of
in productivity. The uptake of science Business, Innovation and Employment and AgResearch.
and the passion from farmers for their

12 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018





news in brief

News in brief

Acron sets up distribution company in Yara signs mining agreement with the
France Ethiopian authorities
Acron Group has launched Acron France SAS, based in A mining agreement for the Dallol mining project has been
Paris, to sell urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN) and bulk blends signed by Ethiopian Minister of the Ministry of Mines,
directly to consumers in France and neighbouring countries. Petroleum and Natural Gas, H.E. Ato Motuma Mekasa,
For UAN distribution, the Company leases warehouse and Yara International President and CEO, Mr. Svein Tore
facilities in Rouen, France, and Gent, Belgium. Holsether.
The CEO of Acron France SAS is Ms Nathalie Brastel, who has "We are glad to achieve this key milestone in the Dallol
extensive experience in fertilizer sales and distribution. mining project. A mine in the Afar region would contribute
significantly to economic development locally and nationally.
Mr Dmitry Khabrat, Acron Vice President Overseas,
We recognize and appreciate the efforts made by the Ethiopian
commented: “For many years, Acron Group has been among
the major European suppliers of UAN. In 2017, sales to this government in supporting the project, both by providing
region totalled approximately 400,000 t. Acron France will necessary infrastructure and through making the mining
expand the Group’s footprint in this priority export market. agreement possible," said Svein Tore Holsether.
The new team of professionals will promptly respond to Yara Dallol is a mining project located in the Afar region in
clients’ needs, ensuring rapid supply of a variety of high- the northern part of Ethiopia. During the feasibility studies
quality products”. carried out over the recent years, significant reserves of natural
resources used for the production of Sulphur of Potash (SOP)
have been identified in the allocated exploration area. SOP
SOP Plant Nutrition and Kerley is a premium fertilizer product especially beneficial for fruit,
International join forces to create one vegetable and coffee crops.
business unit The planned Yara Dallol mine will have a production capacity
Tessenderlo Group has announced that its business units of approximately 600,000 t of SOP per year, equivalent to
SOP Plant Nutrition and Kerley International will be approximately 10% of the global market. The products will be
joining forces with immediate effect in order to create one mined using solution mining, meaning there will be no open
business unit: Tessenderlo Kerley International, which is pit at the site.
part of Tessenderlo Group. This new business unit will bring
together all of the experts, agronomists and commercial Yara Dallol is a 51.8% Yara International owned company.
advisers from both previous business units into one global The other owners are Liberty Metals and Mining Holdings
team that is characterized by a dedicated customer focus (25%) and XLR Capital (23.2%). A final investment decision is
and which possesses an outstanding heritage. Tessenderlo expected towards the end of 2018. The total capital expenditure
Kerley International will build on the nearly 100 years of frame for the project has yet to be finalized, but significant
expertise at Tessenderlo and the 70 years of expertise at efforts have been made to optimize expenditure, and the
Kerley. amount has been reduced from the previously estimated USD
740 mn.

Italian fertilizer maker plans Indiana

research centre Yara acquires leading crop nutrition
An Italian company that makes organic fertilizers plans to recommendation platform
build a research center adjacent to its new central Indiana Yara International ASA has completed the acquisition of
manufacturing plant. Agronomic Technology Corp (ATC), which operates Adapt-N,
a leading nitrogen recommendation platform in the US that
Italpollina CEO Luca Bonini says the research center called
improves farmer profitability and agricultural sustainability.
Italpollina Park will specialize in sciences used in the
company's product development process. In line with Yara's strategy to accelerate its investments
in digital farming, Yara completed the acquisition of ATC,
The centre will include a greenhouse and numerous growth
which offers farmers and advisors solutions such as Adapt-N
chambers. Researchers there will be able to test new products
and N-Insight to optimize fertilizer use on individual field
in local fields with advanced technologies, including special
zones. Combining scientific multi-variable modelling of
sensors installed on drones.
crops, weather, and field data, ATC's solutions enable online
The complex will be built adjacent Italpollina's new USD9.2 diagnostic and simulation of farmers' choices to maximize
million North American headquarters in Indianapolis. yield, input cost efficiency, and the sustainability of farming.

14 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

news in brief
"ATC will help us implement our farmer-centric strategy and eventually, which will be "soon" produced by the Cherepovest
is an important building block in expanding our position in production complex.
Digital Farming," said Terje Knutsen, Executive Vice President,
PhosAgro has appointed Konstantin Filimonov as the head of
Crop Nutrition, Yara. "It is another important contribution
its Balkans unit. He has held "top positions in the sphere of
to our mission to responsibly feed the world and protect the
agrochemical sales" since 1997, the company said.
planet," Knutsen continues.
The Russian firm already operates trading offices in
The scientific focus and experience of the ATC team will
Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Brazil and Singapore,
further strengthen Yara's position as the leading crop nutrition
and currently sells about 80% of its products without
provider. "We are impressed with the accuracy and quality of
Adapt-N's recommendations compared to other products in
the market, and are excited about the opportunities that arise
from combining the highly complementary digital solutions
of the two companies", said Stefan Fürnsinn, Senior Vice NORTH AMERICA
President, Digital Farming, Yara.
ATC combines an experienced cross-functional team Agrium and PotashCorp announce
of agronomists, modellers, software developers and receipt of regulatory approval in China
entrepreneurs. The company's Adapt-N solution builds and India
on decades of research initiated by Cornell University and PotashCorp and Agrium have announced that China’s
involving dozens of leading partner organizations, resulting Ministry of Commerce has approved their proposed merger of
in broad scientific validation. The company, which is based equals transaction.
in both New York and Silicon Valley, already has a strong
commercial position in corn in the US, and is expanding to The approval will be conditioned on the parties’ commitment
other crops and geographies, which will now be significantly to divest PotashCorp’s minority shareholdings in Arab Potash
accelerated together with Yara's global footprint and Company and Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. within
knowledge. 18 months and Israel Chemicals Ltd. within nine months from
the closing of the merger transaction. The companies are
"Our team is excited about Yara's digital solutions and the permitted to consummate the merger prior to the divestments.
company's genuine commitment to helping farmers improve
their financial and environmental performance. Joining The approval is also conditioned on the commitment to
our advanced technology and data-driven capabilities convert PotashCorp’s equity interest in Sinofert Holdings
with a leading crop nutrition company like Yara provides a Limited to a passive investment prior to the closing of the
tremendous opportunity to scale globally, innovate across a merger transaction and ensure that Canpotex remains a
wider product portfolio and crop base, and maintain focus stable, reliable and dedicated supplier of potash to China.
on the success and sustainability of all farmers and those who Upon closing the merger transaction, the new company will be
serve them," said Steve Sibulkin, CEO, ATC. named Nutrien. As the largest global provider of crop inputs
and services, Nutrien will play a critical role in “Feeding the
Future” by helping growers to increase food production in a
PhosAgro opens Balkans trading office sustainable manner.
to double sales In addition, the two companies have announced that India
Russian fertilizer producer PhosAgro has established a has approved their proposed merger of equals transaction.
Serbian subsidiary to operate a new trading office in Belgrade
and directly supply several markets in southeast Europe. An Indian appellate court has approved a settlement reached
between the merger parties and the Competition Commission
The new subsidiary, PhosAgro Balkans, will focus on of India (CCI) and has directed the CCI to issue a clearance
launching direct sales in the territory of former Yugoslavia, order. The CCI’s approval will be conditioned on the parties’
Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Albania, Greece and commitment to divest PotashCorp’s minority shareholdings
Cyprus, the company said. These markets were previously in Arab Potash Company, Israel Chemicals, Ltd. and Sociedad
supplied indirectly through intermediaries. Quimica y Minera de Chile S.A. within a period of 18 months
from the issuance of the order. The companies are permitted
The Belgrade unit is PhosAgro's seventh trading office abroad
to consummate the merger prior to the divestments.
and its establishment is part of the firm's export strategy to
move to direct international sales. The company expects to Upon closing the merger transaction, the new company will be
increase sales to southeast Europe by 35,000 t by the end of named Nutrien. As the largest global provider of crop inputs
this year and double local deliveries to more than 250,000 t/yr and services, Nutrien will play a critical role in “Feeding the
by 2020 with the help of the new office. Future” by helping growers to increase food production in a
sustainable manner
PhosAgro will sell complex NPK and NPS fertilizers in the
region besides its "traditional" diammonium phosphate The companies have now received clearance for the merger in
(DAP) and mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) products, Brazil, Canada, China, India and Russia. The regulatory review
according to Sergey Pronin, the firm's deputy chief executive. and approval process continues in the US and the parties expect
He said the company also plans to sell granulated urea here to close the transaction by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 15

news in brief

PotashCorp successfully completes Still, he said the company is optimistic the project will happen.
Costs to build the plant have gone down and the company can
Rocanville expansion take advantage of low-cost gas to make fertilizer, he said.
PotashCorp has marked the successful expansion of its
Rocanville operation, now the world’s largest potash mine. "We're still going full speed ahead," he said of making moves
to attract investors.
The nameplate capacity of the mine is 6.5 mn t, up from 3 mn t
pre-expansion. The Workforce has doubled to more than 750. The plant is slated to create 140 jobs, Mackie said.

“We are very proud of our employees for their accomplishments

here at Rocanville – they were truly dedicated to working hard
and working safely. As a result, this mine is poised to be a key
part of our company’s future for years to come. We are also
grateful to our contractors for their significant contributions Yara to acquire Vale Cubatão
during this extensive project,” said PotashCorp President and Fertilizantes complex in Brazil
CEO Jochen Tilk.
Yara has entered into an agreement to acquire the Vale Cubatão
“By enhancing capacity at Rocanville, our lowest cost Fertilizantes complex in Brazil from Vale S.A. for an enterprise
operation, we have improved our competitive position and are value of USD255 mn. The acquisition will establish Yara as
ready to respond to the world’s increasing need for potash.” a nitrogen producer in Brazil, strengthening its production
footprint and complementing its existing distribution position.
The USD3-bn expansion included a new mine shaft – the first
built in Saskatchewan since 1979, as well as a new mill, a new "I am pleased to announce this agreement, which will bring
500,000-t storage facility, new rail and rail loadout equipment nitrogen production assets into our growing portfolio in Brazil,
and conversion of the existing service shaft, used for people strengthening both our industrial and fertilizer production
and materials, to a second production shaft, for bringing ore and sales," said Svein Tore Holsether, President and Chief
out of the mine. Executive Officer of Yara.
“We have a strong team at Rocanville that is committed "The nitrogen assets have a strong competitive position, as
to optimizing our production capability here,” said Mark Brazil is a net importer of nitric acid and nitrates. This deal
Fracchia, President, PCS Potash. “As we strive to achieve our is an important step towards establishing a more complete
business goals at this operation, it’s a priority for us to ensure position in Brazil, strengthening our position as a long-term
the safety of our employees and contractors and to continue competitive industry player, committed to developing and
to grow our strong relationships with the communities in this investing in Brazilian agriculture and industry," said Svein
region.” Tore Holsether.

The celebratory event, held in the office building at the new The Cubatão asset is a nitrogen and phosphate complex with
Scissors Creek site, was attended by more than 300 people, an annual production capacity of approximately 200 kilotons
including local and provincial elected officials, suppliers, of ammonia, 600 kilotons of nitrates and 980 kilotons of
employees from the Rocanville operation and several members phosphate fertilizer. The complex employs approximately 970
of PotashCorp’s Board of Directors and senior leadership team. permanent and 930 contracted employees.
Natural gas feedstock for the ammonia production is sourced
from local suppliers, while additional ammonia, phosphate
USD2.5 bn fertilizer plant backers ask rock, sulphur and other raw materials are supplied via a
for extension nearby import terminal which is not part of the transaction.
A company that plans to build a USD2.5 bn fertilizer plant in
In 2016 the Cubatão complex sold approximately 1.3 mn t of
Dakota, US, has applied for a six-month extension for several
nitrogen and phosphate products (2.5 mn t including CO2
and other intermediate products), generating pro-forma
Northern Plains Nitrogen (NPN) has sent a letter of intent to net revenues of USD413 mn and an EBITDA of USD30 mn.
the city to extend its water and discharge permits, NPN Chief 2015 pro-forma net revenues and EBITDA were respectively
Operations Officer Larry Mackie said Wednesday. The city will USD532 mn and USD89 mn. The purchase price will be
provide water to the plant, which is expected to be built on a adjusted at closing for any deviation between the closing
320-acre site northwest of Grand Forks. working capital and a normalized working capital level.
The plant was first announced in 2013, but the timeline for Yara expects to make upgrading investments of approximately
construction has not been set. There have been delays in USD80 mn up to 2020 in order to realize annual synergies of
the project as NPN tries to gather support from investors. A USD25 mn through a combination of cost, asset and product
depressed agricultural economy has made it difficult to woo portfolio optimizations.
potential supporters, Mackie said. He declined to say what
The agreement is subject to the approval of relevant
percentage of funds has been raised for the project, citing
competition authorities and other regulatory approvals. The
confidentiality agreements.
agreement is also subject to the right of first refusal of a third
"The farm economy has been terrible lately," he said. "It's party not being exercised by end 2017. Closing is expected to
been a difficult time to raise money for agricultural projects." take place in second half 2018.

16 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

news in brief

Ma’aden to supply phosphate fertilizer

to Bangladesh in 2018
The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) has signed
a phosphate fertilizer supply contract with Bangladesh
Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC). Ma’aden will
supply di-ammonium phosphate fertilizer (DAP) to BADC for
the year 2018.
BADC is a government-owned corporation which imports
fertilizers under the umbrella of the Bangladesh Ministry of
Speaking at the contract signing ceremony in Ma’aden’s
Riyadh headquarters, Khalid Al Rowais, Senior Vice
President of Ma’aden’s Phosphate Business Unit, said “we
are pleased to once again offer quality, reliable fertilizer
supplies to Bangladesh. We hope to demonstrate our ongoing
commitment to the Bangladesh Ministry of Agriculture and
the BADC by continuing to build on our long term relationship
for many years to come.”
Ma’aden has developed a strong position as a key global
supplier of phosphate fertilizer and currently delivers to
clients in over 20 countries. With its plans to expand in the
phosphate business, Ma’aden exports of phosphate fertilizer
will reach around 6 mn t in 2018 and 9 mn t per year with

Dry granulation
the future expansions, positioning the company as a major
international supplier.

of fertilizers ASIA

Indian Government to roll out fertilizer

direct benefit transfer in five more
Our technology has been recognized around the world
for dry granulation of MOP / SOP and NPKs. Our services
The government will introduce direct benefit transfer (DBT)
cover pilot plant tests, basic engineering, equipment of fertilizer subsidies in five more states, including Punjab,
supply, start-up supervision, and commissioning. Typical a senior Fertilizer Ministry official said. The DBT facility for
fertilizer subsidies has been rolled out in 14 states and Union
flake capacities are in the range of 10 –130 t / h or more.
Territories (UTs) already.
The government bears about INR70,000 crore annually as
We have received orders for more than 70 fertilizer
fertilizer subsidy to provide cheaper farm nutrient to farmers.
compactors of latest Köppern technology since the
“Fertilizer DBT is working smoothly in 14 states. We have
year 2000. The total installed flake capacity of these plants
shortlisted five big states – Punjab, Haryana, Chhatisgarh,
is exceeding 60,000,000 tpa. Madya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh,” Fertilizer Joint Secretary
Köppern – Quality made in Germany. Dharam Pal told PTI.
The states and UTs where the DBT facility has been rolled
• State of the art technology out are: Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttarkhand, Goa, Nagaland,
• Process technology know-how Manipur, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Daman and Diu, Dadra
Nagar Haveli, Andamana and Nicobar, Delhi and Puducherry.
• High plant availability
• Quick roller replacement For the remaining 12 states such as Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh,
Gujarat and West Bengal, the DBT scheme will be rolled out
in January 2018. The difficult phase is over and the software
is working better now, the official said, adding that glitches in
implementation are being resolved on a daily basis.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 17

news in brief

Niti Aayog-appointed MicroSave, an NGO, is evaluating the

implementation. “It is bringing to our notice the problem
areas and we are rectifying them,” he added.
Stating that the government is implementing the phase-I
Angola to build fertilizer factory
of the fertilizer DBT at present, Pal said: “Under this, we are The president and CEO of the Danish group Haldor Topsoe
transferring subsidy to companies after checking retail sales has announced the construction of a factory in the Zaire
data captured through the Point of Sale (PoS) machines.” province of Angola, to produce 2 mn t of fertilizer per year.
The project is valued at USD2 bn.
The transfer of fertilizer subsidy directly into farmers’ bank
account will be taken up in the second phase once Niti Aayog Speaking to the press after an audience with the Angolan
suggests an appropriate model, he said. Therefore, the DBT Head of State, João Lourenço, Bjerne Clausen, president
being implemented for fertilizer subsidy payments is slightly of the Danish group said that the fertilizer project is
different from that in case of cooking gas, he added. completely private and is scheduled to be built in three
For cooking gas subsidy, customers buy gas cylinders at the
market price and the government deposits the subsidy into the The factory is expected to create around 4,000 direct jobs
customer’s bank account later. and 40,000 indirect jobs.
In case of fertilizers, farmers may not be able to make upfront Between 2016 and 2017, Angola’s imports of fertilizers
payments because some of the soil nutrients are very costly. stood at 70,000 t. According to Marcos Nhunga, minister of
Therefore, farmers will continue to buy fertilizer from the agriculture, Angola has tripled the amount of fertilizers to
retailer at subsidised rate and the transaction details will be boost the agricultural sector.
recorded on the PoS machines.
The company has already conducted a survey on the site
The official shared that the impact of fertilizer DBT will be where the factory will be built. The Danish group said
known after it is rolled out in the entire country. “It is too that the project aims to address the growing demand of
early to say. Till we get one year figure for the entire country,
fertilizer for effective agricultural practices in the country.
we would not know whether it has improved distribution or
The project comes in line with the Angolian government’s
reduced consumption,” he said.
initiative to boost agriculture and agribusiness in the

Urea output likely to shrink this fiscal year

India’s urea production is likely to fall by 3 lakh t to 24.1 mn t this
fiscal year due to the renovation of plants, says a senior fertilizer
ministry official. The country had produced 24.4 mn t of urea
in 2016/17, it said. Agrium buys Australian fertilizer
"Total urea output will be less because some plants are shut business Macrofertil
down and renovating to meet energy efficiency. That's why Calgary-based Agrium Inc. has signed a deal to buy
there will be a reduction of 3 lakh t," the official said. However, Macrofertil, a fertilizer distribution business in Australia,
this will be a temporary impact, he added. from Louis Dreyfus Co.
The production of urea has been on the rise over the past two Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available.
years, but is still short of the annual demand of about 32 mn t. The company says the Macrofertil business includes six
Therefore, some quantity is still imported. fertilizer storage and distribution assets with coating and
According to the official, the capacity of urea plants is being blending capabilities, and about USD120 mn in annual
fully utilised and sick units are being revamped to achieve self- sales.
sufficiency in urea output. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions and is
The government is trying to reduce urea consumption, given expected to close in the first quarter of next year.
that this fertilizer is being used excessively as it is cheaper than Agrium's existing Landmark Operations Ltd. retail business
other soil nutrients in the country, he explained. in Australia offers crop inputs, agricultural merchandise as
As a result, the government has introduced neem coating of well as agronomic advice and services for wool and livestock
urea and is planning its sale in a 45-kg bag instead of the 50-kg sales, finance, insurance and real estate.
from next year.
Agrium CEO Chuck Magro says the deal will complement
A highly subsidised fertilizer, urea is sold at INR5,360/t to its retail footprint in Australia and allow it to improve its
farmers. The government bears INR40,000 crore annually to product and service offerings for new and existing Landmark
ensure urea is sold at a subsidised rate. customers.

18 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


the EU fertilizer regulation
for plant biostimulants
by Marco Rupp, Senior Consultant,
The European Biostimulant Industry Council Secretariat

The European Biostimulant

Industry Council (EBIC) aims to
Biostimulants are key to the
raise awareness of the benefits circular economy
of biostimulants for sustainable
agriculture. One of EBIC’s main
activities is securing a European
regulatory framework for
biostimulants, thereby enhancing New horizons for The new fertilizer regulation was the
Commission’s first initiative within
accessibility and transparency for CE-marked fertilizers the EU Circular Economy Strategy. Its
farmers. Some plant biostimulants Although the 2003 Fertilizer Regulation objective was to bring a wider range of
have been used on farms for created an internal market and fertilizing products to the market and
hundreds of years – e.g. farmers developed rules for 'CE marked' incentivize the transformation of waste
near the sea use seaweed to
mineral fertilizers in the EU, 15 years into crop nutrients. One of the reasons
increase crop productivity and
later it is outdated because it does not to include biostimulants in the scope of
to stimulate what are now called
cover non-mineral fertilizing products. the new regulation is their circularity,
biostimulant effects.
Currently there is no European internal i.e. they use recycled and renewable raw
Today, however, biostimulant market for these fertilizers, which not materials and reduce waste streams.
formulations are generally only include plant biostimulants but In addition, biostimulants not only
more complex and can include others such as organic-based fertilizers complement mineral fertilizers but also
components such as micro- and soil improvers. Consequently, provide resilience to more variable and
organisms, hydrolyzed proteins, manufacturers must deal with a adverse growing conditions. That is
humic and fluvic acids, as well fragmented market including 28 because they contain substances and/or
as plant and seaweed extracts, different sets of national rules and micro-organisms which, when applied
vitamins and other substances. regulations for market access and to plants or the soil, stimulate natural
This complexity and high rate of approval of biostimulant products processes to enhance nutrient uptake
innovation has proved challenging across EU Member States. In this and efficiency, tolerance to abiotic
in the current debate on the new EU respect, EBIC warmly welcomed stresses, and improve crop quality. Thus,
fertilizing products regulation. There the new proposal for the fertilizer biostimulants are key to the circular
is a well-known saying in Brussels regulation – published by the European economy, contributing to resource-use
that “regulating the past is easier than Commission in March 2016 – which efficiency, using renewable resources,
regulating the future”. includes biostimulants. and creating jobs, growth and rural

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 19


development in Europe. This innovative

technology will enable farmers to
increase the quantity and quality of their
yields to feed growing populations and
improve performance on important
environmental indicators such as
greenhouse gas emissions, water use, etc.

EBIC’s proposals for

improving the fertilizing
products regulation
EBIC has defined a number of priorities
on how to improve on the regulation, in
• The need for clear definitions for
plant nutrition products in general
and plant biostimulants in particular
• A sharp boundary between
biostimulants and plant protection
products to avoid potential misuse of
products, but allow products to share
• Defined safety criteria for evaluation
of biostimulants complemented by
harmonized standards
• Better use of secondary raw
materials (plant extracts, virgin
material substances, animal and
industrial by-products) to foster the
circular economy
• Sufficient power for the European
Commission to adopt delegated acts
and amend the regulation according
to technological progress and
• A more science-based approach to
setting contaminant levels.

Overcoming barriers
The European Parliament and the
Council of the EU, made-up of 28
Member States, are expected to enter
into negotiations at the beginning of
2018 and to reach an agreement on the
final text in meetings overseen by the
Commission (known as ‘trilogues’). The
European Parliament adopted their
position in October 2017, giving its lead
Member on the dossier (known as the
‘rapporteur’) a negotiating mandate to
defend in discussions with the Council.
The Parliament made several
improvements to the Commission’s
proposal in its text, many of which were

20 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


supported by EBIC. The Parliament points’ for the manufacture of plant stated objectives of the legislative
revised the umbrella definition of “plant nutrient products. However, EBIC proposal. SMEs, which are more likely
nutrition” products, acknowledging would like to see further improvements to manufacture substances in small
that all products under the regulation made to the Component Material quantities, would be forced either to
contribute to increasing yields and Categories (CMCs), and is trying to assume disproportionate additional
plant vigour. Acknowledging this address these. For example, regarding costs (estimated by EBIC at an average
contribution is essential for translating the use of industrial by-products, many of around EUR 100 000 per product).
the benefits of plant nutrition products have a long history of use in fertilizing EBIC argues that normal REACH
into terms that are meaningful to, and products and, as such, their use should requirements should therefore be
valued by, farmers. It is particularly be continued. reinstated for biostimulant products.
important for a new product category
like biostimulants to include in their
marketing claims how biostimulant Incentivizing innovation What’s next?
functions contribute to yields and EBIC is actively engaged with key
EBIC members are also concerned
vigour. Equally, it is crucial to create stakeholders to address the issues
about a lack of provisions for data
a clear boundary between fertilizing outlined here. The technical nature of
protection and confidentiality in the
products and plant protection products the legislation and the complexity of
regulation. The Commission’s proposal
to avoid any misuse of differing the products involved have often made
foresaw the exclusive use of a public
regulatory obligations. it difficult to find “simple” solutions
positive list in the CMC covering
Harmonised standards are essential micro-organisms. However, this able to harness the innovative nature
for a well-functioning market for safe, requirement would force companies and potential of biostimulants and
effective and affordable biostimulant wishing to bring newly discovered other new product categories. Member
products. Developing safety criteria strains of micro-organisms to the States are expected to agree on a
for biostimulants, and specifically market to surrender the results of negotiating mandate in Council by
for micro-organisms, will allow their privately-funded research into end of 2017. Only then will the trilogue
manufacturers to provide appropriate the public domain. It could work to meetings between Council and
data to conformity assessment bodies. disincentivize innovation in identifying Parliament representatives begin in
This will enable risk levels to be new micro-organisms and harnessing earnest. It is hoped that these meetings
assessed more accurately and ensure their biostimulant potential. will secure the final adoption of the
that defined criteria will have been met. regulation by the end of 2018. It is
The biostimulant industry is only crucial that the institutions can agree
Combining evaluation criteria with
just beginning to scratch the surface on it before the European elections,
harmonized standards will help ensure
of the untapped world of micro- scheduled for the first half of 2019.
that only safe products are brought to
organisms with hundreds of new,
market and will be more cost effective The success of the revision of the
potentially beneficial strains being
for industry and the authorities fertilizing products regulation relies
identified by researchers nearly every
than the traditional risk assessment on getting the regulatory framework
day. For this reason, it is critical
approach. right so that it fosters innovation and
that the Commission can modify
the regulation’s annexes taking into creates incentives for companies – big
To this end, the European Parliament’s
and small – to invest in research and
vote to regulate new micro-organisms account future technological progress.
development for biostimulants. For
at strain level and to include An agile regulatory framework is
the sake of the biostimulant industry,
“placeholder language” for harmonized crucial for future innovation.
as well as the circularity, sustainability
standards and safety criteria has been
The stricter REACH obligations for and productivity of the EU agricultural
welcomed by EBIC. This is even more
fertilizing products proposed by the sector, it is crucial that EBIC can inform,
relevant today because the European
Commission are also implicated. educate and explain the industry’s
Committee for Standardization (CEN)
By penalizing small producers emerging needs to policymakers. In
recently approved the proposal for the
and small production runs, which this way, it can help to secure a well-
creation of a new Technical Committee
characterize test marketing, these functioning internal market for plant
(CEN/TC 455), the scope of which will
provisions will reduce competition nutrition products across Europe, today
cover standardization in the field of
and stifle innovation, contrary to the and tomorrow.
plant biostimulants and agricultural
Other improvements in the European Biostimulant Industry Council (EBIC)
Parliament’s position consist of the As the representative organization for the biostimulant industry in Europe covering
inclusion of plant materials or extracts the majority of players in the EU biostimulant market with 56 active full members
that do not require REACH registration – including dozens of SMEs as well as multinationals – EBIC embodies the voice of
and the recognition of a wide array of the biostimulant industry to the EU institutions at a tipping point in the history of EU
animal by-products that are generally fertilizer use: the reform of the EU fertilizer regulation; the first since 2003.
used safely. It was also recommended Find out more on
that these should be defined as ‘end-

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 21


Squaring the
circular economy:
unfinished business for EU regulation
of organic-based fertilizers
by Felice Lo Faso, President,
European Organic-Based Fertilizer Industry Consortium (ECOFI)

In March 2016, the European fertilizers, growing media, soil fertilizers to encourage integrated
Commission proposed a new amendments, agronomic additives plant nutrition management and
regulation on ‘fertilizing products’, and plant biostimulants. Introduced to promote recycling and reuse of
an umbrella term covering not under the Commission’s Circular secondary raw materials.
just mineral fertilizers and liming Economy policy framework, the new For ECOFI, this equal access is not
materials – which both have access regulation’s raison d’être was framed about displacing mineral fertilizers,
to the European Single Market under largely as putting other products but promoting the integrated and
the current Regulation 2003/2003 – related to plant nutrition and soil complementary use of mineral and
but also organic and organo-mineral fertility on equal footing with mineral organic-based products. Using both
types of products can help ensure
that nutrients are available to plants
Biostimulants are key to the circular economy: they use recycled and renewable raw throughout their growth cycles. In
materials and reduce waste streams addition, organic-based fertilizers
and soil amendments help improve
soil structure and increase soil carbon
content. A European Single Market
could make it possible to alleviate
nutrient overloads in places like
the Netherlands and Brittany while
helping improve soil structure in the
Mediterranean regions.
On 24 October 2017, the European
Parliament adopted its mandate for
negotiating the new EU fertilizing
products regulation with the two other
EU institutions, the Council of the
European Union and the European
Commission. Discussion in the
Parliament and its report revealed that
promoting the Circular Economy in
fertilizing products is easier said than
done in political terms. So far, the most
dominant issue in the negotiations has
been in relation to mineral fertilizers,
i.e. setting new limits for cadmium and
other contaminant levels. At the same
time, it has been difficult to secure

22 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


forward-looking conditions for the use used at national level and those in the soil. Some of the parliamentary
of secondary raw materials from other already approved for use in fertilizers amendments also reflect a lack of
industries, even when such industrial at EU level, reducing unnecessary familiarity with standard market
by-products have long histories of safe barriers for some organic-based practices regarding the declaration of
use and agronomic effectiveness. fertilizers already found on the market. the quantity of nutrients and technical
Similarly, the Parliament voted to tolerances.
include any plant-based material
EU approval or substance in the regulation that The Council – made-up of 28 Member
does not require REACH registration. State representatives – will now
Despite the numerous issues that still
However, there are still some technical finalize their own position as regards
need to be resolved, the European
points which require correction before the Commission’s proposal, making
Consortium for the Organic-Based
the finalization of the text. their own amendments to the text
Fertilizer Industry (ECOFI), strongly
before they negotiate the final version
welcomes the future regulation and For example, MEPs adopted with the European Parliament in
calls for it to be negotiated, adopted incoherent minimum nutrient
and implemented swiftly over the meetings called ‘trilogues’ overseen by
contents across solid and liquid the Commission.
coming months.
organic fertilizers and organo-mineral
ECOFI welcomes, in particular, fertilizers. Several of the parliamentary Considering the broad scope of
the Parliament’s inclusion of key amendments define ‘total’ nitrogen or the regulation and the intricate
raw materials for the industry in phosphorus in organic-based products technical nature of the dossier, it will
future CE-marked plant nutrition cite only inorganic (mineral) forms, be a challenge – but not impossible
products. Adoption of the text would whereas the point of organic-based – to iron out the inconsistencies,
see ‘endpoint status’ granted to products is to provide organic forms differences and issues in time for
the materials derived from animal of nutrients that are gradually made the final text to be adopted before
byproducts which are already widely available to plants by natural processes European elections in 2019.

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Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 23

price watch

Price watch
NITROGEN The net decrease in supply of about 2 mn t will keep the
domestic market tight in Q1 2018 because no increase in
supply is likely. Exports are minimal and tight supply is also
Limited rebound after urea collapses creating the conditions for urea imports to begin. One 50,000
Urea prices peaked in late October and then fell sharply after t AG cargo is already reported sold for December shipment to
the last Indian tender was cancelled in November, dropping southern China and a further 60,000 t of Iranian urea is moving
USD70-80/t in some areas, before bottoming out at the end of to north China, but this is for re-export business.
November. Looking beyond January, the urea market is forecast to return
The surprise cancellation of the tender led to buyers worldwide to substantial surplus in Q2 when demand falls for seasonal
pulling out of the market and a period of minimal demand reasons and prices will come under pressure again.
during November. The resultant pressure on producers and Without Chinese exports to set the floor there is no obvious
traders to find outlets caused a collapse in prices, with the few level at which export capacity will be forced to close above
active markets, notably Brazil, overloaded with urea. USD160-170/t fob; the recent start-ups in Iran, the US, Algeria
Urea prices reached a floor at USD220/t fob Egypt, a level and Malaysia are all viable at this level. A further fall in Chinese
last seen in July, but buying resumed and prices have now exports is probable in 2018, but Indian imports are forecast to
rebounded slightly as a result. Whether this is more than a fall by 1.5-2.0 mn t next year due to lower demand, and the
dead cat bounce remains to be seen. Dangote project in Nigeria is scheduled to come on-stream
and eventually add up to 2.5 mn t/yr to supply.
Our trade balance forecast shows December in surplus due
deferral of demand to January, notably in Europe, but January
is forecast to be substantially short of urea for this reason.
A further rebound in price is contingent on a new Indian
tender being held during December. We are forecasting Indian
urea purchases totalling 500,000-700,000 t for December and
Availability drives pricing higher in
first half January shipment. If this buying is deferred, the China
outlook changes. DAP and MAP prices surged in October and November as
the cost of raw materials spiralled and producers’ availability
Prices in the international market have fallen to the level at
became increasingly tight. The delay of new capacity in
which the US is no longer trading at a discount and, for the first
Morocco and US supply cuts added further support to the
time in 2017, is a viable destination for spot tonnage. US prices
market in late October.
have firmed to the equivalent of USD250/t cfr for January and
we expect increasing quantities of urea to flow to the US from In China, DAP producers continued to raise prices in October
December onwards. until they reached the high-USD360s/t fob mid-month. Tight
supply was the rationale behind the price increase as the
The potential upside for prices in December is constrained by
regional governments rolled out a series of controls in order
an overhang of supply from certain regions.
to meet annual environmental standards. Increases in raw
Iranian producers sold only about 120,000 t of urea for material costs resulted in DAP offers reaching USD380/t fob by
November shipment to India, and have a substantial inventory the start of November. At the month’s end, DAP was assessed
to move in December. Russian granular and prilled urea at USD400-410/t fob to reflect achievable netbacks in Pakistan.
suppliers are also long for December.
On the Indian subcontinent, DAP prices began October at
Encouragingly, Brazilian prices have rebounded after being USD365-371/t cfr India and offers for Chinese product had
driven down by suppliers with vessels to complete. Prices increased to the mid-USD370s/t cfr. In mid-October, US
dropped as low as USD225/t cfr but have moved back into the producer Mosaic sold its first cargo from its joint venture in
USD240s/t cfr for January arrivals. The peak season for buying Saudi Arabia. It sold 33,000t of DAP at USD373/t cfr, which set
is nearing its end, though, and interest will fall for January the upper-limit of the USD370-373/t cfr range for the rest of the
shipments. month as imports halted. By mid-November, DAP prices had
increased to USD385-388/t cfr India following a Sabic sale to
Developments in China are helping to stabilise the market.
Chambal – this range was maintained through to the end of the
Production levels remain low at around 57% of capacity and
urea output is forecast at only 55.4 mn t in calendar 2017,
compared to 61.9 mn t in 2016. Exports will total about 4-4.5 In Pakistan, DAP prices moved from the low-USD370s at the
mn t, down from 8.8mn t last year. start of October to a flat USD380/t cfr by mid-month following

24 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

price watch
an unusual sale of 25,000 t of US DAP for late October shipment upon limited business. But, following Mosaic’s announced
– further indicating the increasingly high offers coming out supply cuts, the range increased to USD360-370/t cfr for
of China at the time. At the start of November it emerged November shipment. The range widened to USD370-400/t
an Australian cargo had been bought, which increased the cfr as global phosphate prices soared. The Eurochem sale
range to a flat USD392/t cfr. Private importers jointly shared a of 15,000 t of MAP pushed the range to USD390-400/t cfr by
Chinese cargo a week later priced in the low-USD400s/t cfr for mid-November before the range reached USD400-405/t cfr at
November shipment. DAP prices increased to USD425-427/t the month’s end.
cfr by the end of the month as an importer purchased another
Australian cargo and Sabic sold a formula cargo for January.
Saudi DAP prices were flat through October at USD364-366/t AMMONIA
fob. At the start of November, the range increased to USD370-
375/t fob following a 30,000 t DAP/MAP sale to Australia for
early December shipment. The lower end of the range was
Market trades sideways as
marked by a 55,000 t DAP sale to India reflecting netbacks negotiations for 2018 begin
in the low-USD370s/t fob for November loading. A week After three consecutive months of firming prices, the
later, the range increased to USD385-410/t fob following ammonia market appears to be pausing for breath, with final
a Ma’aden DAP/MAP sale to Australia at USD410/t fob for contractual agreements being locked down for early 2018
early December shipment. The lower-end of the range then and strategies for spot purchasing in the first quarter under
increased to USD388/t fob after Ma’aden secured 50,000t of discussion.
DAP into Kenya.
Spot activity was muted at the beginning of December,
Moroccan producer OCP’s DAP prices increased to USD368- with the majority of participants attending the FAI industry
375/t fob in October following sales of 45,000 t of DAP to conference in Delhi, where buyers are looking to finalize
Europe for November. By the end of November, the DAP range supply agreements for the year ahead.
increased to USD410-412/t fob following the sale of 15,000 t of
Global ammonia prices rose sharply for a third consecutive
DAP to Europe.
month in November to reach six-month highs and are forecast
Russian MAP prices were USD335-340/t fob Baltic at the to stay relatively firm into early 2018 as supply remains tight
start of October. The range increased to USD340-345/t fob across key global supply regions. Prices have risen by around
following a 15,000 t MAP sale by Eurochem as part of a larger USD40-50/t over the past month, and around USD100-130/t
combination cargo – it remained at this level for the rest of since the beginning of September, but it is difficult to see how
the month. In November, MAP prices were pushed higher prices can continue to rise at such a rapid pace in December
reflecting the increased Brazil cfr prices – reaching the mid- and January, with the majority of spot requirements covered
high USD360s/t fob before rising to USD370-375/t fob by mid- for the next two to three weeks.
November. A Eurochem sale to a Brazilian buyer pushed the
range to the low-USD380s/t fob. The Baltic MAP range then Several larger buyers in Turkey and east Asia have delayed
settled at USD375-380/t fob at the end of November following their next round of purchasing until January with the
the sale of 5,000-7,000 t of MAP to eastern Europe. expectation that more Yuzhny and Indonesian ammonia will
be on offer, in line with key units in the region returning to
In the US market, the DAP Tampa price was flat through full operating capacity. A large amount of ammonia has been
October in the mid-USD340s/t fob. At the end of October, agreed on a contractual basis for December and it is unlikely
Mosaic announced that it would indefinitely idle its 1.7mn t/yr that much spot buying will emerge. Any outstanding demand
DAP/MAP Plant City facility in Florida. The Tampa range rose is expected to be met with another hike in offer levels.
to USD345-365/t fob by the start of November, before reaching
USD366/t fob flat the next week. Two December loading sales Southeast Asian and Middle East ammonia is fetching the
in mid-November – 7,000 t of DAP to Latin America and a highest prices globally at USD340-345/t fob, while Yuzhny
30,000 t DAP/MAP cargo to Australia – increased the range has traded at the equivalent of USD330/t fob and the
further to a flat USD375/t fob. By the end of November, the US Ventspils contract has settled at USD325/t fob for December
DAP range moved to USD385/t fob following a combination shipments. Our trade balance shows December to February
sale to Latin America for January. in a deficit before it is expected to move into a surplus towards
the end of the first quarter.
Brazilian MAP prices started October at USD362-367/t cfr as
market activity remained thin after demand for the soybean The urea market has plummeted in November and those who
crop had largely been met. Low demand continued through have the option to switch between ammonia and urea exports
the month, the range was assessed at USD360-365/t cfr based have been weighing up whether or not to take advantage of

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 25

price watch

the higher ammonia premiums. But this is unlikely to affect

sentiment in the ammonia market until more supply becomes
available for export in January. Urea prices have also started to
recover this week, which is likely to keep producers cautious Tight supply keeps prices firm
over any potential product substitution. Recent activity on the potash market has been broadly
Supply disruptions in the Black Sea and the Baltic appear to characterised by tight supply. This was unsurprisingly, given
be easing but tonnage for the export market in December is that September had ended with Uralkali and ICL reporting
extremely limited as the majority of available ammonia is being fully committed globally on MOP until the end of the year.
being directed towards domestic and contractual agreements. Moreover, fellow producers SQM, BPC, APC and Canpotex had
all said the same or similar in the three weeks previous.
In Yuzhny, spot prices are rising to USD300-330/t fob for
December but several production facilities are beginning to The tightness of supply ensured that prices remained largely
ramp back up towards full capacity. Seasonal European and stable-to-firm across the regional assessments. A notable
Turkish demand is keeping the rate of inquiry steady and prices exception was the northwest European price for standard SOP,
are forecast to remain in a USD290-USD300/t fob in January. which weakened as a result of oversupply. But, by and large,
suppliers were able to successfully prevent any potential price
Limited spot availability in the Middle East has pushed the
decreases that may have otherwise occurred.
high end of the range up to USD340/t fob in December and the
range has been adjusted up to USD290-330/t for January and In southeast Asia, prices for standard MOP were relatively
February. Delivered prices to India are forecast to stay firm steady during October-November. Having been raised by
for the rest of December at USD320-370/t cfr before falling USD5/t at the high end of the range going into October, to
to USD310-360/t cfr in January, in line with the lower Middle USD250-265/t cfr, prices remained at that level throughout
East prices. October, on reports of tight supply. But as the tender season
in Malaysia and Indonesia kicked into gear, the range closed
Prices in east Asia are forecast to rise to USD330-370/t cfr
up to USD255-265/t cfr in mid-November, amid a healthy
in December, to reflect higher spot fob prices and a lack of
demand outlook that was supported by strong fundamentals
availability for larger cargoes. The majority of Middle East and
southeast Asian production is expected to come back online concerning crude palm oil (CPO).
in January and prices have been adjusted to USD320-360/t cfr In Thailand and Vietnam, granular MOP ranged around
accordingly. USD280-290/t cfr in October, with demand healthy in Vietnam
In the US, the Tampa cfr price settlement for December rose but seasonably low in Thailand. For most of November, the
USD40/t to USD345/t cfr, following on from the USD60/t range stood at USD280-285/t cfr, but widened to USD280-
increase seen for November shipments. The current range has 290/t at the end of the month, when a major Thai importer
been adjusted to USD345/t cfr for the remainder of the year. confirmed that it had accepted a price of USD290/t cfr for
January prices are forecast to fall to USD315-335/t cfr. January arrivals.

North Africa cfr prices have shown similar gains and are October brought firm granular MOP prices in northwest
forecast to remain in a USD280-300/t cfr range in December Europe, pushing up from the period’s first assessment of
and January. USD253-260/t cfr to USD260-265/t cfr by the end of the
month, again mainly because of a tightness of supply, but
With ammonia prices rising more rapidly than expected also on distributors’ decision to stock up before expected
between August and November on the back of seasonal further increases. Those anticipated rises did not immediately
demand and tighter supply, prices are forecast to stabilise in materialise, though, and prices were unchanged throughout
the first quarter as more supply capacity returns to the market. November, despite efforts by sellers to bring rates up by EUR5-
Yuzhny prices are expected to remain around USD280-310/t 15/t for first-quarter 2018 loadings.
fob as higher production from Togliatti Azot and potential Bucking the trends prevalent in MOP markets, the assessed
capacity from Rossosh and OPZ feed any additional demand range for standard SOP dropped midway through the two-
from Europe and the US. Middle East prices are forecast month period to EUR410-430/t fob northwest Europe, from
to edge lower to USD290-330/t fob in the first quarter and EUR420-440/t. Oversupply — again in contrast to most
USD280-320/t fob by the second quarter as surplus spot
MOP markets — was cited by some participants as being a
availability returns to the market.
significant factor, as the standard SOP level sustained a fall.
Prices in the second and third quarter of 2018 are expected to
In Brazil, the world’s largest potash spot market, the high end
edge lower as new capacity comes on stream in Indonesia and
of the granular MOP range was unchanged throughout the
US. The new capacity is expected to balance out any potential
period, at USD285/t cfr. But the range closed significantly at its
demand growth and Middle East production capacity cuts.
low end on 12 October, to USD280/t cfr, up from USD270/t, on
Yuzhny prices are expected to edge lower to USD270-300/t indications from buyers and offers from sellers. Suppliers were
fob in the third quarter, as producers target higher operating able to maintain the USD280-285/t cfr level from the second
levels. Additional Middle East spot availability is expected to half of October through to the end of November because —
keep the fob price firm around USD270-310/t fob in the third again — of relatively tight supply, which offset waning demand
quarter. as the market quietened ahead of the turn of the year.

26 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

price watch
In the US, at New Orleans, the fob price for granular MOP was prices for the first time this year initially. Iran prices firmed
steady at USD220-225/st through all of October. Suppliers’ again over November to span USD176-186/t fob, against a
successful summer-fill programmes had left most buyers’ crushed lump tender awarded by the Iranian Gas Commercial
needs covered and, accordingly, interest muted. But prices Company (IGCC) at this level. Iranian markets settled by
fluctuated frequently during November — generally trending the close of November however, with two granular tenders
upward — to end the period at USD224-230/st fob Nola. The from IGCC failing to be awarded at the USD190/t price mark
increases were thanks to the arrival of autumn applications targeted by the company.
across the Corn Belt, a shortage of river supplies, and
In the cfr markets, Chinese buyers re-entered the spot market
indications from some domestic producers that their offers
in mid-October after the Golden Week holiday with a flurry of
were soon to be raised.
granular business concluded in the range USD147-150/t cfr, up
by around USD15/t on last business. October Chinese granular
prices peaked in the USD190s/t cfr, against the purchase of ex-
SULPHUR Middle East cargoes, and prices firmed again to USD215/t cfr
over November amid increased speculation which worked to
Sulphur prices firm to record levels encourage firmer price ideas for international granular. China
cfr prices then softened to USD205/t cfr by November’s close,
Sulphur prices firmed to record levels in the last quarter of the
as buyers retreated from the market to put pressure on sellers
year, peaking at values not seen since the bull-rush of early
against further price increases.
2014 in both buyer and seller markets. Fob prices in the Middle
East firmed USD61-71/t on September, to USD200-205/t fob Indian cfr prices firmed to USD180/t cfr on a notional basis
Middle East and to USD176-186/t fob Iran. Cfr granular prices during late-October as fob market prices increased. Domestic
responded in turn, increasing by USD82-90/t to USD215/t cfr buyers refrained from purchasing whilst adjusting to firming
China and to USD225/t cfr India by mid-November, with offers price ideas in the market. But prices firmed on concluded
heard between USD10-15/t above these levels. business in early-November to span USD218-220/t, following
the award of delayed purchase tenders from IFFCO and PPL.
Firm prices were driven by various supply-side shocks in the
Prices finally peaked at USD220-225/t in late-November
global market, which coalesced over the reported period.
against purchases by Andhra Sugar, Tata Steel and CIL at this
Announcements of delays in new supply projects expected
level, amid offers in the USD230s/t cfr and over.
to come online in 4Q including the 1.1 mn t/yr Kashagan
project in Kazakhstan, and the 2.5 mn t/yr Barzan Project in Fourth-quarter contract prices also settled at increases on
Qatar, came alongside announcements of further disruptions the year during the reported period. Middle East producers
in Russia’s Austrofin/GazpromExport’s forecasted supply agreed a price spanning USD90-110/t, which was underpinned
volumes over 4Q, as well as the impact from hurricanes Irma by Kuwait’s KPC and the UAE’s Adnoc agreeing prices with
and Harvey on sulphur recovering refineries across the US traders at USD107-110/t fob early in October. Senegal’s ICS/
Gulf. These shocks to sulphur supply came amid sustained Indorama received 90,000 t of ex-UAE contract tonnes in the
demand for volumes from end-users, which lead to bullish low-USD100s/t fob, and secured a further 20,000 t on the spot
fob price-setting in seller markets where supply remained market in the low-USD200s/t cfr Dakar on volumes originally
available. tendered by Libya’s NOC. North Africa’s GCT and OCP settled
fourth-quarter contracts with all producers on a cfr basis in the
Middle East November Official Selling Prices (OSPs)
range USD98-125/t, with the top-end underpinned by GCT’s
firmed USD54-61/t fob on October. Qatari state-owned QP
volumes from the Middle East and the bottom-end by OCP’s
announced at USD176/t fob Ras Laffan/Messaieed, Saudi
volumes from the Mediterranean. OCP was further reported
Arabia’s Aramco Trading announced at USD182/t fob Jubail
to be in the spot market seeking tonnes throughout November,
and the UAE’s Adnoc announced at USD184/t fob Ruwais.
with confirmed purchases secured at USD170/t and USD180/t
The announcements followed spot cargoes sold into China
cfr, and offers heard in excess of USD180/t cfr North Africa.
in mid-October in the low-USD160s/t fob Ras Laffan against
tender, up by USD25/t on last concluded Arab Gulf business. Brazilian buyers secured fourth-quarter volumes from the
December lifting prices were announced at further increases FSU and Middle East in the range USD120-129/t cfr Brazil, and
on the month, reaching their highest level since 2Q of 2014 settled later with US Gulf suppliers at the start of November in
against the market conditions. QP announced at USD185/t fob the mid-USD170s/t, as prices firmed amid prevailing market
Ras Laffan/Mesaieed, Aramco Trading at USD192/t fob Jubail, conditions. Brazil spot cfr prices also peaked to USD192/t in
and Adnoc at USD195/t fob Ruwais, reflecting the unchanged early-November, against a purchase by Copebras for 40,000
supply fundamentals on the month. December selling prices t of granular sulphur, up by USD54/t on last concluded spot
were nonetheless lower than the award of Qatar Petroleum’s business.
November tender for 35,000 t, for December arrival, which
European contracts for molten sulphur shipments also settled
was awarded in the low-USD200s/t fob Ras Laffan.
at a USD5-8/t increase on 3Q, marking the first increase
Iranian fob markets also responded in turn, with refiner Khark in European contract prices since early-2014. This came
Petrochemicals (KHIPC) awarding a 30,000 t granular cargo at despite an unchanged regional supply demand balance in
USD160/t fob at the close of October, up by USD35/t on last the European market, as sellers took price ideas from upward
concluded business, and trending in-line with Middle East fob movements in the wider market.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 27


Climate smart
in smallholder production
by Tek Sapkota, Scientist/Agricultural Systems & Climate Change,
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), India
ML Jat, Principal Scientist/Systems Agronomist,
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), India
Clare M. Stirling, Senior Scientist/Cropping systems & Climate Change,
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico

Agriculture faces the triple Role of fertilizer in therefore, that further intensification
challenges of increasing production
agriculture and its of agriculture is carried out sustainably
to meet the demand of a growing to reduce the losses of nitrogen to
global population whilst adopting
consumption the environment. In addition to its
more sustainable production Fertilizers are crucial inputs critical role in food production, it
helping drive food production. The
methods and adapting to a should also be acknowledged that
extraordinary period of growth in food
changing climate. Projections show synthetic nitrogen fertilizer has had
crop productivity witnessed during the
that feeding a world population of some benefits for the environment
‘Green Revolution’ was made possible
9.1 bn people in 2050 will require including protecting virgin land from
due to increased use of fertilizer
an estimated increase in food and irrigation together with the conversion to agriculture and through
production of some 60% between development of improved varieties. increased total biomass production,
2005 and 2050 with a 77% increase Agricultural systems are leaky and where properly managed on-farm,
in production in developing intensified use of synthetic fertilizer it has contributed to maintenance
countries. The scarcity of suitable has been responsible for significant or increased soil organic matter.
new land for cropping means that direct and diffuse environmental Furthermore, studies have shown that
this will largely be achieved through pollution with over 60% of nitrogen in terms of greenhouse gas emissions
intensifying production on existing pollution estimated to originate from (GHG) considering the two options
agricultural land. crop production alone. It is essential, of meeting future food demand by

28 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


mining is
a major
cause of soil

either bringing additional land into

cultivation or by intensifying existing
production through the rational use of
fertilizers on a sustainable basis, the
latter results in fewer GHG emissions
Global consumption of synthetic N
Photo 1. Use of optical sensor (GreenSeeker) for in-season N recommendation in wheat.
fertilizer is set to rise from a 9-fold Haryana, India.
increase since the 1960s to a projected
40-50% increase over the next 40 years
with the largest growth occurring
in developing countries. However, Figure 1. Summary of the nitrogen use efficiency (NUE%) of crops for different regions
of the world Source: Farnworth et al., 2017 updated from Brentrup & Pallier, 2010.
fertilizer management in many
smallholder production systems in
developing countries currently follow
blanket recommendations based on
the crop response data averaged over
large geographical areas and without
taking into account spatial variability
in the nutrient supplying capacity of
the soils as well as temporal variability
due to management factors. This,
together with lack of synchrony
between nutrient supply and crop
demand results in lower nutrient-use-
efficiencies. Globally, N use efficiency
of crops is less than 50% with large
variation between regions, indicating
that fertilizer is overused in countries
like India and China and underused in
much of sub-Saharan Africa (see figure
1) where nutrient mining is a major reefs. Similarly, fertilizer-induced in smallholder production systems,
cause of soil degradation. emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) from results in a large portion of N inputs
agricultural production is a major lost through volatilization.
source of anthropogenic greenhouse
Negative externalities of gas emissions contributing to climate
fertilizer in agriculture change. The recent reports by the Precision nutrient
Unbalance and inadequate use of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate management
nutrients not only leads to lower Change (IPCC) and FAO revealed
that synthetic fertilizers contribute Precision agriculture is an approach
nutrient use efficiency and profitability
but also increase environmental risks 12-14% of total global GHG emissions that can be applied not only to large-
associated with the loss of unused from agriculture (680-725 Mt CO2-eq scale mechanized farms but also to the
nutrients through emissions, leaching per year in 2010/2011). About 70% management of inputs on smallholder
or run-off. Leaching and run-off of of these emissions derive primarily farms in the tropics. In the case of
nutrients into aquatic ecosystems from countries with emerging precision nutrient management,
cause a range of problems including economies such as Brazil, China, which aims to improve the efficiency
toxic algal blooms, depletion of India and Indonesia. Similarly, of fertilizer use through ensuring that
oxygen, fish death and loss of broadcast application of urea, the most nutrients are applied in the right form,
biodiversity including that of coral common method of N application in the right amount, at the right time

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 29


of plant uptake, and in the right place

is applicable to fields over 1000 ha Figure 2. Partial factor productivity of nitrogen in wheat using different nutrient
management strategies. NE=Nutrient expert, NE+GS = Nutrient expert followed by
or less than 0.5 ha, all that changes green seeker, SR= State Recommendation and FFP= Farmers’ fertilization practice
are the tools. Increased nutrient use
efficiency through precision nutrient
management can substantially reduce
production costs thereby increasing
economic benefits whilst reducing the
environmental burden of farming.

Tools and techniques

Managing the right source of fertilizer
at the right rate, right time and in
the right place is best accomplished
with the right tools. Various
technologies and decision support
systems (DSS) are available to help
make decisions related to nutrient
management. These tools and DSS
enhance the ability to fine-tune
nutrient management decisions and
develop the right site-specific nutrient
management plan for each field. For
example, leaf chlorophyll content Figure 3. Yield-scaled global warming potential of rice, wheat and maize under nutrient
is linked to N content in such a way expert (NE) and farmers’ practice (FP) of fertilizer management in eastern and western
Indo-Gangetic Plains of India.
that measurement of leaf greenness
- using chlorophyll meter, leaf chart
or optical sensor (e.g. Greenseeker,
see photo 1) - can be used as a basis
of in-season nitrogen management.
Similarly, computer/android phone-
based DSSs (e.g. Nutrient Expert, Crop
Manager) are nowadays progressively
being used to facilitate application
of improved nutrient management
practices in farmers’ fields. Such tools
have become increasingly important
in geographies where blanket
fertilizer recommendations prevail.
As broadcast-application of nutrient is
the major sources of nutrient loss from
agro-ecosystem, drilling of nutrients
(N in particular) or fertigation using
drip irrigation can precisely place
nutrients near the root zone thereby
reducing the volatilization as well as
leaching loss. The research carried by state-recommended and farmers’ farmers’ fertilizer practice. Similar
the International Maize and Wheat fertilizer practice (see figure 2). results have been obtained through
Improvement Center (CIMMYT) Through on-farm comparison in CIMMYT’s work in Mexico also.
demonstrate that in a rice-wheat over 4000 farmers’ field across Indo- Increased biomass yield through
systems, fertilizer efficiency is gangetic plains of India, CIMMYT better nutrient management
increased by 10-15% due to better found that the ‘nutrient expert’-based also leads to more carbon input/
placement of fertilizer with the seed nutrient management reduced GHG accumulation into terrestrial
drill compared with broadcasting intensity of rice, wheat and maize ecosystem which contributes to
in the traditional system. In Indo- production by 5-35% (average 13) reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Gangetic plains of India, both Nutrient over farmers’ fertilizer practice (see In the soil system, carbon and
Expert and GreenSeeker-based figure 3). Similarly, GreenSeeker- nitrogen are integral components
nutrient management has increased based in-season nutrient management of soil organic matter and better
the partial factor productivity of in rice and wheat reduced GHG management of nitrogen also helps
nitrogen in wheat as compared to intensity by 0-13% (average 6) over in carbon sequestration.

30 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Barriers and incentives nutrient management is another farmers can increase their access to
major barrier to uptake of precision inputs and machinery for precision
Farmers generally believe that the nutrient management. Further, in nutrient management. Finally, policy
application of high rates of fertilizer
many developing countries, the makers should also bring targeted
will secure higher yields. This is
poor extension network and lack of subsidies to incentivize smallholder
mainly because most smallholder
involvement of the private sector farmers to adopt various tools,
farmers do not keep records of costs of
means that many tools and techniques techniques and support systems
cultivation and returns from farming.
for precision nutrient management for smart fertilizer management.
As they do not keep track of the
remain out of reach of many For example, the Government of
cost of cultivation and returns, they
smallholder farmers. India recently enacted a policy to
tend to apply more fertilizer with a
smaller marginal rate of return. This is For the promotion of climate smart issue fertilizers to farmers based
compounded by poor fertilizer policies nutrient management strategies on the soil health card. Similarly,
that lead to overuse and imbalanced among smallholder farmers, new tools in January 2015, the Government
nutrient applications. For example, and techniques of precision nutrient of India mandated all indigenous
the government of India provides high management should be promoted by producers to produce 100% urea as
rates of subsidy on urea but much less developing location-specific business neem-coated. The combination of
on other fertilizers. This policy has models involving the private sector such targeted subsidies and policies
encouraged farmers to apply more and young entrepreneurs. Investment will enforce as well as incentivize
nitrogen than other fertilizers resulting should also be directed towards farmers to adopt precision nutrient
in highly unbalanced fertilization and improving access of smallholder management techniques thus
resultant inefficiencies of use. Lack farmers to the government extension helping address the challenges of
of technical knowledge and capacity system. Enabling business policy for food production, climate change
about the tools, techniques and small-scale entrepreneurs to provide adaptation and mitigation faced by
decision support systems for smart custom-hire services to smallholder agriculture.



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take root
in fields and groves
by Naomi Seck, Science Writer, Spinoff, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center,
TRAX International
Preface by Tony Petramala, Marketing Coordinator, Florikan ESA LLC
and Ed Rosenthal, Chairman of the Board, Florikan ESA LLC

At NASA KSC, where failure is not an The researchers Curtis Adams, was Nutricote. In the study results
option, rigorous research is used at Jonathan Frantz, and Bruce Bugbee the research, “found consistent
all points in decision making. noted in the abstract that, “in spite differences among the coating
of several published studies we have technologies.”
Such was the scientific standard
an incomplete understanding of
when it came to selection of a In addition, Nutricote was found
controlled release fertilizer which the ion-release mechanisms and to be “the most effective CRF at
would be used in space to grow characteristics of polymer-coated delivering steady-state release of
vegetables for our astronauts on ISS. fertilizers (PCF).” nutrients in the mid-temperature
The peer reviewed and published range (20-30°C)…Nutricote had
When NASA KSC determined to
research results in a paper entitled, relatively steady release rates over
launch the ‘Veggie Program’ (Space
“macro- and micronutrient- time and a nonlinear response to
Plant Biology), NASA supported
release characteristics of three temperature.”
a rigorous research study, where
three different controlled release polymer-coated fertilizers: Theory Based in part on such research
fertilizers would be “tested for and measurements”. The paper results, Florikan TOTAL w/Nutricote
nutrient release at five different “described the critical effects of Controlled Release Fertilizer was
temperatures measuring nutrient substrate moisture and temperature selected as the CRF to be used by
release for up to 300 days from on macro-and micronutrient release NASA KSC to grow vegetables in
5-40°C in water.” of three PCF types,” one of which space.

32 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Energy and
environment - NASA
Astronaut ice cream may be an
exotic treat for kids, but for real space
explorers, it turns out a fresh, crunchy
salad could sometimes really hit the
spot. The ability to grow food in space
could also prove crucial for longer-
duration voyages envisioned for the
next decades.
Growing plants in a spaceship, and
one day on another planet, is a
complicated endeavor, as Gioia Massa,
science team lead for the NASA Veggie
project at Kennedy Space Center,
will tell you. But one tool making it
much easier is a specially formulated Three different varieties of plants growing in the Veggie plant growth chamber on the
fertilizer, developed years ago with International Space Station were harvested this morning. (CREDIT: NASA)
NASA help, which has also drawn huge
accolades from growers on Earth.
The fertilizer, blended by Sarasota,
Florida-based Florikan, is coated Different nutrients dissolve in
in polymers that control when
and how much of each ingredient
water at different rates
- macronutrients like nitrogen,
phosphate, and potassium, and
micronutrients like magnesium and
zinc - is released over six months to a
year. water the plants and how best to use 1982, were getting used, and saw an
lighting to promote growth. opportunity.
“We don’t use soil, because soil
is very nonuniform and makes it Their efforts have already borne “I went to see a very good friend
hard to ensure a good outcome,” fruit - or technically leaves - with red of mine: a PhD, who produces
Massa explains. Instead, the Veggie romaine lettuce grown and eaten on ornamental plants,” Rosenthal recalls.
plant-growth platform aboard the the ISS in 2015, and zinnias cultivated “He’s throwing bags of water-soluble
International Space Station (ISS) uses through 2016. Future experiments are fertilizer, must have been 40 or 50
a porous, baked-clay substrate. That planned for 2017 and 2018 to grow bags, in the tank. And as I’m watching
clay holds the roots and the water dwarf tomatoes and Chinese cabbage, it, some is floating to the top, some
in place, but it doesn’t provide any with a second Veggie plant-growing is segregating to the bottom. He has
nutrition for the plants - that all comes module to be sent up to increase the to turn on an agitator just to keep the
from the fertilizer. variables able to be tested. fertilizer in the solution.”

“Having the ability to add a controlled- “We’re learning a lot. We’ve certainly Rosenthal was dismayed - if farmers
release fertilizer - which adds the right had our challenges, but we’ve also had were dousing their plants with
amount of nutrients over time without tremendous success,” Massa says. She this poorly mixed solution, a huge
any mixing or any chemicals that you is excited about breaking new ground proportion of the nutrients would
have to measure out - makes it much with these experiments - and confirms leach out into the groundwater. That
simpler,” Massa says. Florikan controlled-release fertilizer was terrible for the environment and
will continue to play its important role. not very helpful for the plants
There is still research being done to
optimize the fertilizer for different He started studying the problem and
plant types, including modifying the
blend of ingredients and release rates
Technology transfer eventually told the grower, “I believe
you’re wasting more than two-thirds
and examining how different fertilizers Florikan founder Ed Rosenthal
of your nitrogen: it’s going straight into
impact the nutrient content of the didn’t intend to push the frontiers of
the groundwater.”
harvest. But using a single-application, where plants are grown when he first
controlled-release fertilizer means began developing his award-winning The segregation was occurring
that, day-to-day, the astronauts and fertilizer. But he saw how fertilizers, because different nutrients dissolved
the Veggie research team can focus including those sold by the company in water at different rates, and that
on other challenges, like how often to he and his wife had founded in gave Rosenthal an idea. Although

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 33


not a chemist by training, by 2002

he’d spent decades working with
fertilizers and polymers at Florikan
and before that at a company that
manufactured polymer-based plastic
plant containers.
“I wondered if I could separate each
nutrient based on its relative solubility
and when it was needed by the plant,”
he says. If he could then coat each
nutrient in a different polymer, some
with a larger-porosity polymer to let a
lot of water in to dissolve the substrate
and release the nutrient as quickly
as possible, some with a smaller
porosity to slow down the release, he
thought he could create a fertilizer that
delivered exactly the right amount of
each nutrient at exactly the right stage Flight engineer Kjell Lindgren poses with zinnia plants in the Veggie facility during Plant Pillow
of growing. water refill operations. Image was taken in the Columbus European Laboratory and released
by Lindgren on social media. "Our zinnias are looking good! #SpaceGardener (CREDIT NASA)
Florikan’s clients had typically been
applying fertilizer monthly. “For
example a nursery with 100 acres of
potted calamondin orange,” would
have a huge workforce applying New approach
a tablespoon per pot, 12 times
At the end of the 40 hours, the NASA
a year. Rosenthal’s new staged-
researchers recommended a whole
release fertilizer would get the same
new approach: coat the nutrients in a
results with just four tablespoons
single, impervious polymer, and then
applied once a year, according to his
treat them with a chemical to open
up pores to the exact specifications
He brought the prototype to a leading required. That spurred two more years
nursery grower who was skeptical but of lab work to perfect the formula,
agreed to let Rosenthal try it out on including a continued back-and-
a few acres of plants. “In six months, forth with the SATOP group. By 2008,
when the grower saw our plants looked Florikan had two new patents, one for
the same as the ones he had already staged nutrient-release fertilizer and
hit with six applications, he said, ‘Ed, another for the polymer coating it was
you got any more of that stuff?’” using.
The new product innovation, dubbed “The ornamental industry - the
Staged Nutrient Release (SNR), was nursery industry producing foliage
quickly embraced by the market, and plants - was the first to embrace the
in 2004, Florikan was recognized by change to the controlled-release
the state of Florida and by the National fertilizer,” Rosenthal recalls, saying
Society of Professional Engineers he soon had enough business to
for making one of the year’s most open a coating facility in Florida.
Ed Rosenthal, founder and chairman of innovative new products. The latter Since then, he has sold both patents
Florikan controlled release fertilizers, award came with a special perk: 40 to agribusiness giant J. R. Simplot
displays his plant growth material during hours of free consulting with a Federal Company, which has introduced the
the 2017 Innovation Expo showcase at
agency to take the innovation forward. technology across the western United
NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The controlled release fertilizer is used Rosenthal chose NASA. States and overseas. Florikan retains a
in NASA's Veggie plant growth system license in perpetuity to manufacture
on the International Space Station and “I knew NASA was working with
and sell the fertilizer in 32 eastern US
in the Veggie control unit in a laboratory some space-age polymers, really
in the Space Station Processing Facility.
states, and its business has also grown
sophisticated polymers that had
The purpose of the annual two-day event in recent years, prompting a need for a
yet to make it into the mainstream
is to help foster innovation and creativity brand-new 85,000 square-foot plant in
among the Kennedy workforce. The commercial field,” he says. He was
Hardee County, Florida, and creating
event included several keynote speakers, connected with Kennedy researcher
training opportunities, an innovation
some 80 new jobs.
Chris Gilfriche in October 2005
showcase and the KSC Kickstart through the Space Alliance Technology Rosenthal credits a huge portion of
competition. (CREDIT NASA)
Outreach Program (SATOP). this success to the guidance he got

34 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


from NASA. “For us to be able to
coat the fertilizer here in Florida and
introduce it into the market, that was a
result of NASA’s SATOP help, no doubt.
It made the product commercially
affordable and made us become a
huge manufacturer.”

The key advantage to Florikan’s
staged nutrient-release fertilizer
is that growers need to use far less
of it, far less often than traditional
formulations. That significantly
reduces the harmful environmental
impact of nutrient runoff, and it also
means less labour and lower costs for
growers. Outredgeous red leaf lettuce, Mizuna mustard and Waldmann's green lettuce are growing
in the Veggie control system in the ISS environment simulator chamber in the Space
“With fertilizer, you want to put Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Growth in the
it where you intend it to be used, chamber mimics the growth of plant experiments in the Veggie plant growth system on the
International Space Station. (CREDIT NASA)
because if it goes into the groundwater,
it may create problems,” Rosenthal
explains. Nitrogen, in particular, has where standard practice had been manner that is sustainable,” he
been linked to harmful algal blooms, to drop fertilizer from airplanes five emphasizes, saying this enhanced-
which can release toxins that harm, times a year. Florikan proposed a new efficiency fertilizer does that
and even kill, marine wildlife including fertilizer that farmers could apply just extremely well.
dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles.
once when the cane was first planted.
And when NASA called Florikan
“If you can apply less fertilizer overall, “They’re now buying significant
for help with its Veggie project,
there is less of a potential impact from quantities for several thousand acres.
Rosenthal created a new blend for
all nutrients. Applying fertilizer once a Without NASA and SATOP, none of
flowering plants, like the tomatoes
year or once every six or nine months it would have happened,” Rosenthal
next heading up to the ISS. The new
is better than every 30 days.” says.
blend, which Florikan has since
One of Florikan’s early formulations J. R. Simplot’s customers include large- also released commercially, has a
was called Florikan Nutricote 18-6-8, scale nursery and turf growers across 14-4-14 nutrient ratio, designed to
for its ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, the western United States, as well as be applied every 100 or 180 days. “If
and potassium, and it was designed palm oil growers in Indonesia and we’d talked to him ahead of time,”
specifically for ornamental plants so Malaysia. Jeff Roesler, vice president Massa notes, “we’d probably have
they would get the right amount of for specialty business units, says the tested that 14-4-14 formulation for
each nutrient when they needed it technology highlights two of Simplot’s the zinnias.”
without waste. core values: respect for resources and
“NASA’s expertise helped us
“Florikan’s research for continuous spirit of innovation.
advance our development by years,”
improvement in controlled-release “In a global world, it’s ultimately about Rosenthal emphasizes. “We were
fertilizer formed the basis for the feeding more people in an efficient happy to pay it back.”
successful introduction of Nutricote
in the United States,” Rosenthal says.
“From there, Florikan’s commitment • The citations to the NASA funded research is published in a research paper entitled
to innovative technology helped Macro- and micronutrient-release characteristics of three polymer-coated
form the NASA SATOP partnerships, fertilizers: Theory and measurements Curtis Adams, Jonathan Frantz, and Bruce
resulting in new polymer coatings Bugbee
for the custom-blended Florikan Data cited from Macro- and micronutrient-release characteristics of three polymer-
Nutricote and Florikote fertilizers and coated fertilizers: Theory and measurements Curtis Adams, Jonathan Frantz and
now for Simplot’s patented Gal-XeONE Bruce Bugbee, Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate, Utah State University, 4820
product line.” Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322, USA and Greenhouse Production Research Group,
As Florikan has grown, it has expanded USDA-ARS, 2801W. Bancroft St., Mail Stop 604, Toledo, OH 43606, USA
its offerings into other types of plants, • Nutricote® is a registered trademark
creating special blends for citrus • Main article originally published in 2017 NASA SPIN Off Magazine
groves and, more recently, sugar cane,

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 35

Conference Preview:
A new event in Europe -
Argus Added Value
Fertilizers Europe 2018
12-14 February, Madrid

Argus Added Value Fertilizers US 2017

The development of a strong distribution channel is a key Supporters of the European conference include The
driver for growth in the value added fertilizer sector. At Argus European Biostimulant Industry Council, BIOVEGEN and
Added Value Fertilizers Europe, you will be able to hear views ANFFE and has been organised with the support of an
from European distributors during a panel discussion. They advisory board of industry experts who have helped to
will be offering their thoughts and experiences of distributing develop the conference programme.
value added products, outlining the challenges they face, and
Delegates will be able to choose from two parallel streams on
touch on their strategies for expansion.
the agenda, the Commercial Track, where the audience can
Argus Added Value Fertilizers Europe takes place in Madrid on analyse the size of opportunities in the European market and
12-14 February. The conference brings together leaders from regional growth prospects or the Technical Track - explore
across the fertilizer supply chain in areas including enhanced the agronomic basis for new added value products and hear
efficiency fertilizers, specialties, water solubles, chelates, real-world experiences from field trials.
inhibitors, slow and controlled release fertilizers, micronutrients,
foliar fertilizers and biostimulants.
The European event is dedicated to specific crops, products Networking opportunities
and people in the European market and offers a balance We will be facilitating a speed networking session to help you
of technical and scientific content alongside access to get to know the other delegates – bring your business cards
commercial and business opportunities in this region. and then you will have plenty of time to follow up with valuable
The audience will also be hear from a grower, ASAJA, the new contacts during the rest of the conference.
Spanish Farmers Association. Their Vice President will be Delegates will also have the opportunity to join moderated
offering his views on the driver’s that impact purchasing roundtable discussions where they can talk through shared
decisions for adopting value added products and challenges problems and exchange knowledge with colleagues working
they face when implementing new fertilizers. in the same field. Delegates can choose from a range of
The new conference follows the success of Argus Added Value topics and pick one that is best suited to their business needs.
Fertilizers USA 2017 which took place in Miami earlier this year It’s a great way to generate new ideas and meet potential
and attracted 200 attendees. suppliers, customers and partners!

To view the programme and for information on how you can participate, visit

36 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


FOCUS... >

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 37


The Brazilian
by Marcelo Fernandes Guimarães, Senior economist, Department of Credit and
Economic Studies, Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil
Simone Yuri Ramos, Agronomist, MSc in Applied Economics and analyst with
Embrapa and Secretariat of Agricultural Policy, Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil

The gross revenue of the segments been achieved by increasing the use of crop yield, allowing for more than
that constitute the Brazilian fertilizers and other technologies. In proportional increases in the levels
chemical industry totaled USD113.4 this context, the fertilizer industry is of production in relation to the area
bn in 2016. The fertilizer segment becoming more and more strategic for planted. In the 1996-2016 period
earned USD12.6 bn, which means both the agribusiness sector and the grain production grew 5.43% per year
11% of the total turnover of the country. on average being accompanied by a
chemical industry in that year, growth of 5.01% in the consumption of
second only to the industrial fertilizers. In the meantime, the area
chemicals and pharmaceuticals
segments, whose participations were
Crucial for growth planted expanded by only 2.46% on
average per year.
48% and 12% respectively. The use of fertilizers is one of the
factors that contributes most to As a result, Brazil has become a major
Over the last two decades, fertilizer
increasing agricultural productivity consumer of fertilizers. According to
sales grew by an average of 7.4%
in Brazil. Figure 1 shows that the data from the International Fertilizer
a year, which is strongly related
use of fertilizers has been crucial for Association (IFA), the country
to the expansion of the Brazilian
agribusiness, where GDP expanded
by an average of 8.15% per year in the
same period. Figure 1. Brazil: area planted, grain production and fertilizer consumption - 1996 to
2016. (Source: CONAB and ANDA)
In the meantime, Brazil has emerged
as one of the leading agribusiness
players in the world and currently
stands out as one of the main exporters
of agricultural commodities. The
country holds a prominent position in
the production and export of products
such as soybeans, meat, sugar, coffee
and orange juice. Despite the huge
agricultural potential of the country,
Brazilian soils are generally poor in
nutrients whihc makes it necessary
to improve their fertility. In addition,
the increasing difficulty to add new
areas to meet the growing domestic
and international demand for food,
fibre and biofuels imposes the need
to increase productivity, which has

38 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Figure 2. Brazil: supply and demand of fertilizers - 2007 to 2017 (mn t) (Source: ANDA)

Table 1. Brazil: fertilizer market at a glance – by nutrients (1000 t)

Item N P2O5 K2O NPK

2015 2016 2015 2016 2015 2016 2015 2016
1. Opening stocks 697 651 1042 1020 779 813 2518 2484
2. Production 789 777 2021 1983 279 289 3089 3049
3. Imports 2858 3800 2642 3021 5103 5408 10603 12229
4. Total supply 4344 5228 5705 6024 6161 6510 16210 17762
5. Exports -44 -42 -101 -106 -70 -69 -215 -217
6. Domestic sales 3533 4366 4401 4974 5162 5728 13096 15068
7. Adjustments & others -116 -136 -183 -108 -116 -80 -415 -324
8. Ending stocks 651 684 1020 836 813 633 2484 2153
Source: ANDA

is the fourth largest consumer, domestic sales of formulated fertilizers fertilizers is much lower than the
accounting for around 7% of the global to consumers (see figure 2). demand and has met only 5% of the
consumption. However, with regards domestic consumption. According
The external dependence is not
to production the country is ranked to AMA Brazil (Brazilian Fertilizer
only due to the high demand of the
eleventh, accounting for only about 2% Mixers Association), in 2015 Brazil
domestic agricultural sector, but also
of the world fertilizer production. imported potash mainly from Canada,
to the structure of production and
The demand for fertilizers in Brazil availability of raw materials (nitrogen, Belarus, Russia and Germany. The
has grown more than its production phosphorus and potash) used for production of nitrogen fertilizers
capacity, making the country highly production of fertilizers. meets about 17% of the domestic
dependent on imports - mainly raw demand. According to AMA Brazil
Potassic fertilizers are the most in data, in 2016 Brazil imported 90% of its
materials and basic fertilizers - and,
demand by Brazilian agriculture, demand for ammonia sulphate, 82%
consequently, more vulnerable to
accounting for 38% of the total of urea, 79% of ammonia nitrate, 72%
volatility in the exchange rate and
nutrients consumed, while phosphates of monoammonia sulphate (MAP)
international prices. In 2016, total
and nitrogenous constituted and 100% of diammonia sulphate
domestic supply reached 34.08 mn
respectively 33% and 29% of
t, of which 24.48 mn t were imported (DAP). The domestic production of
consumption in 2016 (see table 1).
and 9.04 mn t produced domestically. phosphate fertilizers presents a better
When compared with 2007, there was Although the highest demanded situation, meeting 40% of the domestic
an 8% decrease in local production, a input by the Brazilian farming sector, demand. The production of single
40% expansion in imports and 38% in the domestic production of potassic superphosphate (SSP) accounts for

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 39


Figure 3. Brazil: participation in the capacity of production of raw material and intermediate products. (Source: ANDA)

Only seven companies in

Brazil produce basic raw
materials for fertilizers

Table 2. Brazil: supply of basic fertilizers – 2016 (1000 t)

Domestic Imports/Total
Product Imports Total supply production/
production supply
total supply
Ammonia sulphate 202 1852 2054 10% 90%
Urea 1015 4597 5612 18% 82%
Ammonia nitrate 296 1126 1422 21% 79%
Superphosphate simple 4759 718 5477 87% 13%
Superphosphate triple 854 726 1580 54% 46%
MAP 1154 2950 4104 28% 72%
DAP 0 482 482 0% 100%
Potassium chloride 499 8771 9270 5% 95%
Subtotal 8779 21222 30001 29% 71%
Others 261 3263 3524 7% 93%
NPK 9040 24485 33525 27% 73%
Source: AMA Brasil

87% of consumption. Egypt and Israel products and make NPK formulations. easy access to imports of intermediate
are the main suppliers of SSP. The Unlike the NPK mixer segment - raw materials and fertilizers, the
production of triple superphosphate which is estimated to have about 100 competition is higher.
(TSP) accounts for 54% of domestic participants in the market - the raw
Vale Fertilizantes is the largest
consumption, Morocco and China materials and intermediate products
being the main suppliers. segment is highly concentrated and producer of raw materials and
characterized by few players. According intermediate products, holding 58%
Table 2 summarizes the supply of the of the national production capacity
to the National Association for Fertilizer
main basic fertilizers in Brazil. It is (see figure 3). With regards to raw
Diffusion (ANDA), only 13 companies
important to stress that although there materials, Vale stands out in the
operate in the production of raw
is a strong dependence on imported production of phosphoric acid,
materials and intermediate products,
inputs, the final product (NPK) is sulphuric acid and phosphate rock,
with the four largest companies
predominantly mixed in the country. accounting for 82%, 69% and 69%
accounting for 86% of the country's
In the fertilizer industry there production capacity, estimated at 33.4 of the installed production capacity
are producers of raw materials/ mn t/year. In the case of mixture and of these products respectively.
intermediate products (basic fertilizers) granulation of formulations, due to Anhydrous ammonia is almost all
and mixers that purchase intermediate the simpler production process and produced by Petrobras (see table 3).

40 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Table 3. Brazil: Production capacity of raw material and intermediate products – by company and product (1000 t)

Phosphoric Sulphuric Ammonia Phosphate Ammonia Ammonia

Company Urea
acid acid anhydrous rock nitrate sulphate

B&A Fosfato - - - 100 - - -

Cibrafertil - - - - - - -
Copebrás 300 1184 - 1400 - - -
Fertilizantes Heringer - 200 - - - - -
Fospar - - - - - - -
Galvani - 575 - 440 - - -
Itafós - 240 - 500 - - -
Mineração Curimbaba - - - - - - -
Petrobras - - 1252 - - 303 1653
Timac Agro - - - - - - -
Unigel Química - - - - - 400 -
Vale Fertlizantes 1331 4864 21 5440 416 85 -
Yara Brasil - - - - - - -
Total 1631 7063 1273 7880 416 788 1653

Superphosphate Superphosphate Thermo Potassium

Company (cont.) MAP Total
simple triple phosphate chloride

B&A Fosfato - - - 100 - 200

Cibrafertil - 300 - - - 300
Copebrás 150 950 60 - - 4,044
Fertilizantes Heringer - 250 - - - 450
Fospar - 450 - - - 450
Galvani - 1056 - - - 2,071
Itafós - 500 - - - 1,240
Mineração Curimbaba - - - 180 - 180
Petrobras - - - - - 3,208
Timac Agro - 600 50 - - 650
Unigel Química - - - - - 400
Vale Fertlizantes 1390 3664 1412 - 655 19,278
Yara Brasil - 850 50 - - 900
Total 1540 8620 1572 280 655 33371
Source: ANDAl

The number of basic fertilizer single superphosphate (SSP) and fertilizers. Petrobras is basically
manufacturing companies varies four produce triple superphosphate the sole supplier of natural gas as
according to the type of fertilizer. (TSP). Vale Fertilizantes is the largest raw material for the industry and
In the nitrogen chain there are producer of SSP and TSP, accounting the main producer of ammonia to
only three companies operating, respectively for 43% and 90% of the make fertilizers. Petrobras shares the
namely Petrobras, Unigel and Vale production capacity of these products. market with Vale Fertilizantes which
Fertilizantes. Vale produces 100% The production of thermophosphate is the major producer of phosphate
of ammonium nitrate and 90% of occurs in plants of B & A Fosfato rock, holding 69% of the production
MAP; Petrobras 100% of urea; while and Mineração Curimbaba. As for capacity. Phosphoric acid is produced
ammonium sulfate is produced in potassium chloride, the market is by two companies - Copebras and Vale
highly concentrated, and Vale is the
Petrobras and Unigel plants only. In Fertilizantes - the latter accounting for
only producer (see table 3).
the phosphate fertilizer chain, the 82% of the production capacity. There
number of producing companies In Brazil only seven companies is no sulphur production in Brazil for
is higher. Nine companies make produce basic raw materials to make use as fertilizer.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 41


Table 4. Brazil: short and medium term planned investments in the fertilizer segment (2013 to 2018))

Production capacity
Company Venue Amount Project objectives estimated in 2018

Três Lagoas/ US$ 2.5 billion Plant of nitrogen fertilizers to meet

MS demand of Centre-South farm
Linhares/ES US$ 3.1 billion Nitrogen markets of Southest and Urea: 3.17 million tons
state of Goiás Ammonia: 2.76 million tons
Uberaba/MG US$ 1.3 billion Ammonia to the production of Ammonia sulphate: 303 thousand tons
phosphate fertilizers in Minas Gerais Phosphoric acid: 276 thousand tons
and Goiás
Fafen/SE US$ 120 million Sulphate of Ammonia markets of the
Northern Region
Catalão/GO n.a. Double the production of phosphate Phosphate rock: 2.7 million tons
concentrate to meet the demand in Sulphuric acid: 2.2 million tons
Copebras/CMOC the Midwest of the new agricultural Phosphoric acid: 725 thousand tons
frontiers. Reduce dependence on Fertilizers: 2 million tons
external phosphate fertilizers
Arraias/TO US$ 523 million Fully integrated plant (phosphate
stone mine, beneficiation plant,
sulphuric acid plant, granulation
plant and others) located on the new
agricultural areas (MATOPIBA) Phosphate rock: 1.6 million tons
Sulphuric acid: 1.3 million tons
Santana/PA US$ 700 million Operations in an integrated plant Phosphoric acid: 200 thousand tons
(phosphate stone mine, mill, MAP: 150 thousand tons
Itafós beneficiation plant, sulphuric acid SSP: 1.5 million tons
plant, SPS and granulation plant). TSP: 200 Thousand tons
Located near the largest soybean Bicalcium phosphate (DCP): 100
producing regions in Brazil and major thousand tons
fertilizer consumers in Brazil. There is
no local phosphate producer.
Araxá/MG n.a. Phosphate mine and related
Uberaba/MG n.a. Transfer of SSP/TSP plant from
Cubatão / SP to Uberaba / MG.
Expansion of phosphoric acid,
sulphuric acid and high concentrated
phosphate fertilizers plants. Focused
on the Brazilian market
Sergipe n.a. Carnalita Project - Process of mining Ammonia: 210 thousand tons tons
by dissolution and installation of Nitrate: 540 thousand tons
an industrial plant of beneficiation
Vale Fertilizantes Phosphate rock: 10.5 million tons
(Potassium Chloride) Acids: 6.6 million tons
Patrocínio/ n.a. Salitre Project (Phosphate Rock) - Fertilizers: 7.1 million tons
MG Implantation of mine and phosphate
rock beneficiation plant and SSP plant.
Project focused on: a) Increase the
production of phosphate fertilizers;
b) Supply of rock for other Vale
operations; c) Reduce the dependence
on imported phosphate fertilizers.
Campo Alegre US$ 20 million Increase phosphate rock production
de Lourdes/
Irecê/BA US$ 15 million Increase production of phosphate
concentrate, dolomitic limestone and
phosphate rock
Luís Eduardo US$ 35 million Increase production, storage capacity
Magalhães/ and dispatch capacity (sulphuric acid, Phosphate rock: 2.6 million tons
BA acidification, granulation). Focused on Sulphuric acid : 2.2 million tons
the MAPITOBA region market. Phosphoric acid: 420 thousand tons
Santa US$ 350 million Increase production of phosphate Fertilizers: 2.8 million tons
Quitéria/CE rock, sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, Bicalcium phosphate (DCP): 280
fertilizers and bio-calcium thousand tons
Serra do US$ 350 million Increase production of phosphate
Salitre/MG rock and others. Forecast to start
operating mining activities in the
second half of 2017 and production
of fertilizers in the second half
of 2018. The Complex aims to
double the company's phosphate
concentrate production capacity.
Source: ANDAl

42 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


The installed capacity for TSP in the fertilizer segment. There are Besides the investments related
production is around 1.6 mn t/year private estimates indicating that in Table 4, Yara Fertilizantes is
and Vale is responsible for 90% of investments to the value of USD13 bn expected to invest BRL 1 bn (USD311
the Brazilian production capacity. will be made in this segment between mn) by 2020 in the expansion and
Finally, thermophosphate production 2013 and 2018. This total includes modernization of its industrial
is carried out by two companies: construction of new plants and complex (production plant, fertilizer
Mineração Corumbaba, which has a expansion/modernization of existing mixer and warehouse) located in
plant with 180 000 t/year of production structures and refers to projects of Rio Grande/RS, aimed at doubling
capacity and B & A Fosfato, with Vale, Petrobras, Copebras, Galvani and the production and capacity to mix
capacity for 100 000 t/year. Itafós. Table 4 provides some details fertilizer. Currently, the company
on the investments planned although holds a production capacity of 850
As for potash, the reserves are
it does not describe all the values 000 t/year of SSP and 50 000 t/year of
exploited by Vale Fertilizantes. The
involved. TSP.
company is the only producer in
Brazil, with a production capacity of
655 000 t/year.
ANDA – Associação Nacional para Difusão de Adubos. 2017.
New projects and (Available at
investments AMA Brasil - Associação dos Misturadores de Adubo do Brasil. 2017. (Available at
The growing demand for fertilizers
by the Brazilian farming sector Conab – Companhia Nacional de Abastecimento. 2017. (Available at
along with strategic concerns about
the high dependence on imports brasilprodutoseriehist.xls)
have encouraged new investments

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 43


The evolution
of fertilizer
in Brazil
by Priscila Richetti, Market Intelligence Manager, Yara, Brazil

Brazilian fertilizer production has

barely changed over the last decade.
The majority of nutrients offered
On a nutrient basis, the domestic in Brazil are imported
output was 3.1 mn t in 2016 versus
3.05 mn t in 2004.
On the other hand, total production
by product has decreased by 8%. rest of the global markets, the major also due to restricted access to Brazil’s
The difference between nutrient nutrient applied in Brazil is K (38%), natural resources.
production and product production is followed by P (33%) and N (29%).
It is also essential to highlight that
mainly due to a shift from low-grade Due to a heavy disconnect between national production has no tax
phosphates (SSP) manufacturing to domestic production and overall incentive compared with imported
high-grade phosphates (MAP and demand, 80% of all nutrients offered products. The most common tax
TSP). in Brazil are imported. When breaking applied to fertilizers is the ICMS (Tax
The stability of Brazilian domestic this number down by N, P and K, on Circulation of Goods and Services).
fertilizer supply is not the result of flat over 95% of potash consumed in the It is a state tax that can range from
demand. On the contrary, fertilizer country is imported, while this figure 4.9-8.4%, depending on the state of
use increased 57% between 2004 and is roughly 83% for nitrogen. Although origin as well as the destination state.
2016. Currently, more than 15 mn t the reliance on phosphate imports is It means that if a production/blending
of nutrients are consumed in Brazil, lower, they still represent around 60% unit is for instance located in the state
of the domestic needs. of Minas Gerais and sells to the state
making the country the world´s
fourth largest fertilizer market and of Mato Grosso, the ICMS applied
accounting for roughly 7% of the will be 4.9%. On the other hand, if the
global fertilizer consumption, only Domestic fertilizer business is concluded with the state
behind China, India and the USA. production of São Paulo, the ICMS will be 8.4%.
The country´s largest crop is soybean development and new The ICMS will be 0% if the sale is done
(responsible for more than 40% of the investments inside the same state the fertilizer was
fertilizers consumed domestically), The nearly unchanged domestic produced or blended. Furthermore,
creating an inconsistency compared supply, which failed to follow the boost imported fertilizer is duty free, creating
with the rest of the world in terms of in fertilizer consumption, is not only an unfair competition to the domestic
nutrients consumption. Unlike the the result of a lack of investment but production even after it generates, in

44 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


some cases, a tax credit to the buyer
of the local products. Figure 1. Brazil´s nitrogen supply and demand evolution

For nitrogen production, the two

major finished-fertilizers, urea and
ammonium nitrate, faced almost no
changes on their installed capacity
compared with 2004. The same
facilities are still operating in the
country as they were in the past.
Moreover, the Brazilian actual urea
and ammonium nitrate production
capacity is at 1.6 mn t and 0.41 mn
t, respectively. In terms of effective
production, in 2016, 1.0 mn t of urea
and 0.3 mn t of ammonium nitrate
were manufactured for fertilizer use.
The expansion of the nitrogen
production holds some uncertainty.
Figure 2. Brazil´s potash supply and demand evolution
The investments in urea and
ammonia plants announced by the
Brazilian state owned company some
years ago are still on hold. The project
of Tres Lagoas, located in the state of
Mato Grosso do Sul, was almost 80%
completed before it stopped three
years ago. The complex has an annual
capacity of 0.76 mn t of ammonia
and 1.2 mn t of urea. The company
already announced its intention to
divest non-core assets, including its
fertilizer units and the Tres Lagoas
project (see figure 1).
According to ANDA (Brazilian
Fertilizer Association), among the
three nutrients, potash production
faced the largest decrease from Figure 3. Brazil´s phosphates supply and demand evolution
2004 to 2016. Brazil used to produce
around 0.64 mn t of the product,
while this figure is no more than
0.5 mn t today, representing a
22% decrease. Regarding new
investments, there is no official new
capacity that will be concluded or
started in the medium-term (see
figure 2).
Phosphate production has stayed
almost unchanged since 2004.
Today, a total of 1.98 mn t of
nutrients is produced in Brazil.
Nevertheless, an important change
in the product portfolio was seen
over the years. The SSP production
in 2004 was responsible for 53% of production in Brazil increased the investment with Galvani) is the most
all P manufactured domestically, share of these two products to 31% and prominent given its size and imminent
followed by MAP (27%) and TSP
20%, respectively (see figure 3). start. The mining activity is likely to
(15%). Currently, the share of SSP
is still higher compared to others, Many investments have been begin in the first semester of 2018.
although its participation decreased announced over the past years, but The greenfield project received an
to 46%. The boost in MAP and TSP Serra do Salitre (Yara´s joint greenfield investment of BRL2.6 bn.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 45


Serra do Salitre is a fully-integrated facilities and a potash mine. The mn by 2020 in order to realize annual
production complex comprising acquisition didn´t include the Cubatão synergies of USD25 mn through a
phosphate rock mining and finished nitrogen and phosphate complex. combination of cost, asset and product
fertilizer manufacturing. The project portfolio optimizations.
Yara has recently entered into an
is ideally located in the state Minas
agreement to take over from Vale Brazil will continually improve its
Gerais, close to the key fertilizer
the Cubatão complex in Brazil, for agriculture sector, and as a result,
consuming markets. About 1.2 mn t of
an enterprise value of USD255 mn. overall fertilizer use still has room to
phosphate rock will be produced every
The acquisition will establish Yara grow, and the gap between imports
year. On top of that, the complex will
as a nitrogen producer in Brazil, and domestic production will widen.
produce 0.9 mn t of sulphuric acid,
strengthening its production footprint
0.25 mn t of phosphoric acid and more New opportunities to increase capacity
and complementing its existing
than 1 mn finished products. will remain available in the domestic
distribution position.
market. For this reason, international
The Cubatão asset is a nitrogen corporations such as Yara are
Brazilian production and phosphate complex with an constantly investing in Brazil. Since
structure annual production capacity of 2013, the Norwegian company has
approximately 0.2 mn t of ammonia, been announcing its growth strategy
Brazil’s fertilizer chain is divided into
0.6 mn t of nitrates and almost 1 mn in the Brazilian market, including not
three main segments: Raw material/
t of phosphate fertilizer. In 2016, the only distribution but also domestic
mining (natural gas, phosphate rock complex sold approximately 1.3 mn t
and potash), processed fertilizer production investment. Thus, Yara
of nitrogen and phosphate products
production (involving integrated contributes to the reduction of Brazil’s
(2.5 mn t including CO2 and other
and non-integrated producers) and reliance on imported fertilizers,
intermediate products).
blenders/distributers. helping the domestic agricultural
Yara expects to make upgrading industry to produce in a more
For the purpose of domestic supply, investments of approximately USD80 sustainable way.
it is the raw material/mining and
processed fertilizer production
segments that should be taken into
The raw material/mining sector is the
most concentrated one. Natural gas
production and distribution still have a
great dependency on one state owned
company in Brazil. For potash, only
one company has been responsible
for the domestic production for
years. When it comes to phosphate
rock, there are three big companies
that are developing its production
The second segment, processed
fertilizer production, comprises a
relatively high number of players.
The same state owned company
responsible for most of the natural
gas production and distribution is the
only urea producer in the country.
For ammonium nitrate, there is also
only one producing company. On the
other hand, phosphate-based finished
fertilizer has nine players producing
SSP, MAP, TSP and others.
At the end of 2016, Mosaic announced
its intention to buy Vale Fertilizers
units, which was approved by the
Brazilian Administrative Council for
Economic Defense in August 2017. The
transaction involved five phosphate
mines in Brazil, four production

46 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

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Fertilizer | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018
The future of
phosphate rock
Rock phosphate is suitable for phosphoric acid
manufacturing, direct application to plantations and as a
primary input to added value phosphorus products

There are substantial resources of global phosphate and the overwhelming majority are neither
conveniently located nor of good quality. The most significant costs of new phosphate projects
involve logistical infrastructure rather than the mining operation. In most cases, other factors add to
costs, including the availability of water, the need for expensive beneficiation and a general increase
in the capital costs of projects — whether mining or processing into plant-available form — which can
be significant;
Any constraint on the supply of phosphate will therefore be determined not by resource availability,
but by the cost of exploitation, conversion into plant-available P₂O₅ and delivery to market.

Phosphate rock supply

As a general rule, the majority of existing rock producers will adjust their output to the demands of
their own in-house processing or that of joint-venture partners.
Overall, there are a number of well-developed projects that could be brought on stream in the 10 to
15 years based on demand. However, the bulk of additional acid-grade rock production will come from
existing producers — mainly Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, South Africa, Russia and Peru.

Phosphate rock demand

The main driver for phosphate rock demand will continue to be the production of phosphoric acid,
largely used for ammonium phosphate production.
We see no evidence to suggest that there will be a return to building large-scale phosphoric acid
or nitrophosphate complexes based on imported rock. The only exceptions will be complexes built
as joint ventures between a mining company and a processing company — a form of arm’s-length
vertical integration similar to the Jordan-Indonesia joint ventures.

48 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Case study: The Bayovar 12 project -
Focus Venture's phosphate rock mining project in Peru

by Gordon Tainton, President and Director, Focus Ventures Ltd

Focus Venture’s Bayovar 12 project,

located within the Sechura basin
in northern Peru, hosts a major
deposit of some of the most reactive
sedimentary phosphate rock in the
The overall investment to bring the
Peruvian phosphate project into
production is estimated to be USD167
mn and the initial mine life is 20 years.
Focus Ventures currently owns the
mining concession and port/terminal
facilities are accessible through a joint
venture partner.
A detailed pre-feasibility study (PFS)
Figure 1. Annual mine production schedule
as well as two non-binding MOUs for
offtake have been established with
fertilizer trading companies.
The company’s next step is to bring
the project into production through
alignment with a strategic partner. The
aim would be to assist the project with
an initial investment of USD15 mn,
of which USD12 mn would go to the
Bankable feasibility study (BFS) and
USD3 mn would be allocated to meet
an already established credit facility.
The project itself is located in the
phosphate basin in northern Peru,
close to a world-class operating
phosphate rock mine that is 75%
owned, and 100% operated, by Mosaic.
There is existing infrastructure very The PFS will be supplemented by a pentoxide (P205) that can be
close to the Bayovar 12 concession. full Bankable Feasibility Study (BFS) concentrated into a reactive phosphate
The property is accessed directly from expected to commence in January rock (RPR) product of up to 31% P205.
the Pan American Highway, an existing and it is expected to take 12 months to
With less than half the property
electrical transmission sub-station is complete.
examined by exploration drilling,
16 kms away and the seaport is 40 kms
the Bayovar 12 project has already
from the concession.
documented a mineral resource
Focus Ventures currently operates The project estimate of 210 mn t of ‘Indicated’
the mine and related port facilities as The Sechura region of northern Peru resources, 102 mn t of ‘Inferred’
a gypsum export project. While this is a proven source for superior reactive resources and 18 mn t of ‘Measured’
will be converted primarily to the phosphate rock. Focus Venture’s resources grading 13.1% P205. Focus is
phosphate project, the gypsum will 31,000 acre property hosts 13 stacked proposing to produce 1 mn t of rock
continue to operate for the life of the horizontal beds of free-digging concentrate per year grading 24-28%
mine. phosphate rock with phosphorus P205.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 49


Sedimentary phosphate rock Geologist logging core

The product Oil palm application 9%, equivalent to 1.7 t/ha/year, than
the plot fertilized with medium reactive
Sechura Reactive Phosphate Sechura RPR is used extensively on
phosphate rock over a three year period.
Rock (RPR) from Peru is a oil palms in Malaysia and Indonesia.
natural, gradual-release source of In a controlled trial of three different Over five years, Sechura RPR actually
phosphorus that can be applied phosphorus sources on immature oil achieved slightly higher yields than
directly to crops. RPR produces palms [medium reactive phosphate palms fertilized with TSP. Studies have
excellent results in acid to mildly rock, highly-reactive Sechura RPR concluded that ‘the direct application
acidic soils. This is achieved by and Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) of high reactive phosphate rock
contributing phosphorus to the soil the plot fertilized with Sechura RPR fertilizer on tropical soils is…agronomic
over a longer period of time than fertilizer gave a higher yield of about and economically-sound management.’
some manufactured fertilizers such
as Single Super Phosphate (SSP).
Sechura RPR resembles brown
beach sand. It is made up of particles
of natural phosphorus minerals -
mainly calcium phosphate - and it
can be applied directly to crops by
broadcasting, banding or in the seed
It works best in tropical climates
and acid soils with high rainfall. The
phosphate minerals react with the
natural soil acids slowly releasing
RPR also contains Gypsum - a
natural source of calcium and
sulphur - and micro-nutrients such
as copper, zinc and molybdenum. It
can be blended with other nutrients
to produce a range of different multi- Nearby operation showing flat-lying and free-digging ore and over-lying waste rock
nutrient fertilizers.

50 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


The International Fertilizer Association
(IFA) found no difference in effectiveness Investment details
between water soluble phosphate • Stable Investment Environment: Peru rated BBB+ investment grade by S&P with
fertilizers and RPR in specific countries stable outlook. Stable political environment and friendly mining jurisdiction.
with high acreages of oil palm and other • Represents a good jurisdiction for an existing fertilizer group to establish additional
strategic reserves and resources while also providing it excellent access to North and
tree crops and tropical acidic soils.
Latin America, South Asia and Oceania.
• Concession term and Royalties: Concession term of at least 30 years and royalties at
Key attributes • PFS Attractive economics: PFS completed in 2016 shows an after-tax NPV of
The technically simple and USD458 mn, IRR 26.3% and a mine life of minimum 20 years with an initial and fully
environmentally friendly project has inclusive CAPEX of USD167 mn (Focus management believes the economics can be
a chemical-free beneficiation process further improved and will embark on proving this in the planned BFS)
which uses sea-water and fresh-water. • Planned BFS optimization: BFS will take 12 months to complete and it is estimated
that the production OPEX and transportation expenditures will come in at USD50/t.
The resource is near the surface and Optimization includes, re-work of mine plan, relocate infrastructure to optimize
is ideally suited for large-scale and tailings, installation of a Bucket Wheel Excavator and conveyor system (BWE) for
low-cost open pit development with more efficient removal of overburden to significantly reduce OPEX, and improve
potential to increase through further costs on tailings and water management.
In terms of logistics, the cost is relatively
Distribution company. There is also a growing
low: the ore is free digging and so no customer base for rock phosphate
drilling and blasting is required. In Phosphate prices are currently at product suitable for phosphoric acid
addition, experienced labour is available the lowest point they have been in manufacturing, direct application
in the region and there is easy access to years, which represents a potentially to plantations and as a primary
a medium depth seaport with a highway opportune time for a strategic input to added value phosphorus
crossing the site. vertically-integrated phosphate products.

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Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 51


Specific crop
in Argentina
by Dr. Ricardo Melgar, Principal (Senior) researcher,
National Agricultural Research Institute (INTA), Argentina

As one of the major players in

global grain supplier, Argentina Figure 1. Evolution of crop production and fertilizers consumption in Argentina
is an important market for the
fertilizer industry. Today around
3 mn t of products are demanded
every year, of which N and P
products command 80%. Still,
after two decades of expansion
in fertilizer consumption and a
race on breaking the ceiling for
grain yields, the nutrient balance
remains highly negative for these
two macronutrients (see figure 1).
Six crops consume 85% of the
fertilizers in Argentina, and of these,
soybean, wheat and maize, make
up three-quarters of the total (see
figure 2). In recent years, the area
with barley and sorghum has taken
on some importance at the expense
of wheat and maize, but soybean
dominates the landscape in most arid climates, the sunflower takes Nitrogen
agricultural regions throughout the precedence over soybean. While in
the ‘area nucleo’, the centre and centre The six main crops consume almost
country. The regional distribution
north Pampas or the ‘Argentinean exclusively as many as six products,
of other crops respond to the best
corn belt’, two crops: soybean, and two N products: urea and UAN, and
ecological conditions of each zone,
which dictates the seasonal demand maize cropped in rotation drive the four phosphates, simple and triple
for fertilizers. For example, in the demand for phosphates and sulphur. superphosphates and mono and
south, wheat and barley are central in In this region, soybean is very often diammonium phosphates. Of the N’s,
the rotation due to their higher yield mono-cropped and under fertilized in urea contributed 59% of the products,
potential and this drives the demand leased fields, a situation that has led to but 69% of the N as a nutrient, followed
for nitrogen fertilizers. Towards the millions of hectares with degraded and by UAN (28% of the volume and 23% of
west, in more sub-humid and semi- eroded soils. the N). The remaining, near 200 000 t

52 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


of other N fertilizers, account for 8%
of the total N demand. Figure 2. Fertilizer consumption of grain crops in Argentina (near 3 mn t of produce)

Given the relatively recent adoption

of fertilizers in agriculture in
Argentina combined with the rapid
growth of the entire sector, due to
technological advances, nutrient
balances in agricultural soils have
evolved in tandem with these
innovations. However, it is worrying
that the balance remains quite
negative, especially when compared
with the US and Brazil.
Although national data shows an
increasing trend of N replacement
values, the impact of lower than
optimum figures is mitigated by
the dominance of soybean which
thrives at the expense of N biological
fixation. Formerly, the rotation with
alfalfa based pastures helped to
sustain a reasonably neutral balance.
It is astounding how maize yields Why is potash not part of the
are obtained with so little N
when compared with other grain regular portfolio of fertilizers?
producing areas. Undoubtedly this is
at the expense of organic soil matter.
However, N rates for corn production
grows every year as well as the
proportion of maize in the rotation,
suggesting a larger importance of average consumption is around 350 bearing clays. This situation ensures
maize for driving N demand. 000 t. many years without the need for
potassium fertilizers.
The numbers for phosphorus
balance appear to have stabilized Out of the Pampas, to the west, there
Phosphorus around 60-65% of replacement - a are more sandier soils with lower
Phosphorus is a strategic material likely unsustainable scenario. An reserves and organic matter, the
for national crop production. Given increasing application could be the climate is less humid and there is less
the lack of phosphate deposits of only solution unless crop yields go to potential for extraction of nutrients,
enough quality and quantity to bear decline over time. the area is still rich in cations though.
industries, the importation of MAP
In the humid and subtropical climates
and DAP creates critical decisions at
in the north of the Pampas and along
the onset of the season every year. Potassium the Andes on the west, arid climates
Farmers divide their preferences Many people in the industry who obligate an irrigated agriculture
between ammonium phosphates are not aware of the country’s and push for a more intensive
(61%) and superphosphates (33%), particularities, find it difficult to management to obtain a high quality
either in direct applications or in understand why potash is not part and valued products. These scenarios
blends with N products or gypsum of the regular portfolio of fertilizers, for fruit and vegetables encourage the
to ensure the S supply when single especially given the huge areas use of potassium to ensure a more
superphosphate is not an ingredient. under soybean and corn, highly balanced nutrient supply. In Salta
extractives, or when compared with and Jujuy, tobacco is the largest crop
The presence of two plants of single
neighbouring Brazil, the third global which demands potassium sulphate
superphosphate impose certain
most demanding country for potash. and a large proportion of nitrate rich
commercial pressure to farmers
but also reinforces the agronomic Fortunately, in a large proportion of
advantage of having a product with the Pampean soils - an extended flat In north-eastern Argentina, the
phosphorus and sulphur for soybean prairie where most of the national humid and hot climates with sandy
that does not need nitrogen. From grain production is taking place - the soils are lacking in most nutrients and
being a totally unknown product in supply of potassium is sourced from require a large supply of K fertilizers,
the local market until 1999, today the its parental material, enriched with K in addition to N and P, to bear

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 53


economic production of grains such

as rice, as well as citrus and banana Figure 3. Fertilizer consumption of non-grain crops in Argentina
(Near 300 000 t of produce)
plantations. These crops increase the
demand for potash.
The uneven distribution of potassium
levels in soils at the national level
does not allow to tell about the
nutrient balance, should be done at a
county or regional stage. Otherwise,
the hardly used nutrient led to values
of no more than 2% of replenishment
at the country scale.

Sulphur as a nutrient was practically
ignored during the early stages of
adopting fertilization practices in
the 90s. Soon farmers realized how
easily they could increase yields
by including a cheap gypsum or
older fertilizers such as ammonium
sulphate or single superphosphate.
Research from crop advisers and
firms helped a lot and nowadays S is
regularly applied in most agricultural
lands as part of the fertilization
Extensive use of micronutrients is
package, even in some soybean currently limited to boron
crops growing in high native P levels,
gypsum is the only fertilization

Micronutrients Responses to micronutrient irrigation water and foliar spraying

After two decades of expansion applications have been reported of micronutrients. Among those
of fertilizer consumption and a for most grain crops cultivated in crops, one can distinguish the
race on breaking the ceiling of the Pampean region. Nevertheless, specific use of boron in apples and
grain yields, the recorded area extensive use of micronutrients pears, of zinc in citrus and other fruit
with micronutrient deficiencies is is currently limited to boron in species, and of iron and manganese
increasing every year and responses in vineyards. All these corrective
sunflower and zinc in corn and rice.
to micronutrients applications measures include soluble products
Very often molybdenum (Mo) and
are starting to appear in many applied through foliar spraying. In
cobalt (Co) are applied with seed
areas. By far, the most widespread the case of vegetables, flowers and
treatments along with other seed
micronutrient deficiencies relate intensive crops under greenhouses,
control chemicals.
to zinc and boron in the Pampean product formulations include several
region. The cropped area with boron These days the industry is assisting micronutrients.
deficiencies accounts for millions the exponential demand of fertilizer
of hectares. It affects several crops products with Zn in the formula. Unlike the use of micronutrient
including soybean, sunflower, It is well known that adoption in spraying in intensive crops, which can
apples, and pears. Zinc deficient agriculture follows an S-shaped be considered part of the production
areas are also quite widespread and pattern, with very slow early adopters, package, the use of granular products
are not only restricted to the most followed for a large and quick containing micronutrients in
sensitive grain crops such as corn increase of farmers eager to use the extensive crops is underdeveloped.
and rice, but also to citrus and beans Promotion of their use to correct
new technology and then a lag of late
produced outside the Pampas. More the already identified micronutrient
or never purchasing users.
specific deficiencies relate to iron deficiencies may require special
in vineyards, soybean and beans, Intensive crops usually receive well- efforts from the fertilizer industry to
chloride in wheat, copper in pastures balanced fertilization programmes, communicate the economic benefits
and molybdenum in soybean and with macronutrients incorporated derived from the utilization of
alfalfa. into the soil or applied with appropriate formulations.

54 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


logistics in
challenges and
by José Vicente Caixeta Filho, Professor, University of Sao Paulo,
College of Agriculture and General Coordinator at ESALQ-LOG Group, Brazil
Thiago Guilherme Péra, PhD student in Applied Economics at ESALQ/USP,
Coordinator and Researcher at ESALQ-LOG Group, Brazil

Brazil has become an important Agribusiness logistics The available transportation

producer and supplier of food on a infrastructure in 2017 in the country
global scale due to its high agricultural
and freight market in accounted for 1.563 mn km of roads
potential. The country is among the
Brazil (only 13.5% were paved), 30 000
world's largest producers of sugar, Logistics involves the planning of km of railways (only one third in
coffee, orange juice, ethanol, beef, the physical, informational and commercial operation), 41 600 km of
chicken, corn, soy, soybean meal, managerial systems necessary for navigable waterways (22 000 km of
soybean oil, cotton and pork. However, inputs and products to overcome economically navigable waterways),
due to the high level of production, it is space and time constraints according to statistics from the
the fourth largest consumer of fertilizers economically. Specifically, it involves National Confederation of Transport
in the world, behind China, India and the spatial and temporal management (CNT). This configuration results
the US. In 2016, Brazil consumed about of assets to make things arrive at the in a predominantly road orientated
34 mn t of fertilizers. Of this volume, right time, in the right place, under matrix: 61.1% flows by road, 20.7%
71.8% were imported from other the right conditions and at the lowest by rail, 13.6% by waterways, 4.2%
countries and the remainder produced possible cost. by pipelines and 0.4% by planes.
domestically. Soybean was responsible The competitiveness of agricultural Specifically for solid agricultural bulk,
for 44.26% of fertilizer consumption, commodities depends on the the estimated transport matrix is ​​
followed by maize (18.47%), sugarcane efficient management of costs, since 60% by road, 30% by rail and 10% by
(13.45%) and coffee (5.81%) - totaling a commercial prices are formed on waterway, according to the Planning
relative demand of 82%. the international market. Part of and Logistics Company of the Federal
this efficient management is tied to Government (EPL).
Before we understand the logistics of
fertilizers, it is important to present logistical costs, which depend on Brazil relies heavily on road
the characteristics of the Brazilian the adequate availability of logistics transportation for agricultural
agribusiness logistics and the market infrastructure, both in quantity and products and fertilizers over long
for road freight prices in the country. quality. distances through often poor

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 55


Figure 1. Map of the main import flows of fertilizers. The circumference area shows the amount of grain export and import of fertilizers in
the port.

Northern Arc

Barcarena (PA)

São Luís (MA)

Santarém (PA)
Manaus (AM)

Legend Salvador (BA)

Fertilizier Industry
Grains Production - 2016 (tonnes)
< 5,899
5,900 to 36,999
37,000 to 119,999
120,000 to 287,999 Vitória (ES)
288,000 to 639,999
640,000 to 1,239,999
1,240,000 to 2,799,999 Santos (SP)
> 2,800,00
Other Paranaguá (PR)
Export and Import into port S. F. do Sul (SC)
Fertilizers Rio Grande (RS)

0 250 500 750


conditions, which raises costs and factors. The main factors influencing due to lower transport productivity,
reduces competitiveness. More freight prices are: particularly in loading, unloading and
specifically, the impact of logistic costs port queuing operations
• Distances between origins and
on commodity marketing prices is very
destinations • Toll fees
high - in some cases, it may be higher
than the commodity price itself. • Quality of the road - the • Competition between products
transportation carried out on and regions - there are several
In addition, the country's agribusiness agribusiness products that compete
highways classified as ‘good’ is priced
freight market has a very competitive against each other (sometimes, in
lower prices than transportation
structure, often with high price different regions) for truck pick up
along highways classified as ‘regular’
volatility. Along this line, there
or ‘bad’ • Existence of rail or waterway
are several factors that impact the
transportation alternatives
behaviour of the freight market and • Marketing channel - routes to the
consequently the transportation costs, ports have a higher freight price when • Existence of return freight or back-
which involve supply and demand compared with the domestic market, hauling

56 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Figure 2 - Evolution of grain exports, fertilizer imports and ratio between the two in recent years in Brazil.
Source: Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade from Brazil - MDIC (2017)

1) Fertilizer logistics: The agribusiness freight market

back-hauling freight has a very competitive structure
With Brazil importing almost 72% of all
the fertilizers consumed, there is a very
a focus on ‘back-hauling’ operations.
A back-hauling operation consists
of a transaction in which the vehicle railroads (equivalent to 12.76% imports into Brazil from the
returns with a secondary load that of the amount consumed in different ports.
is compatible with the transport the country) compared with
(iii) Back-hauling operations usually
equipment, i.e. it does not return just 210 200 t along Brazilian
utilize the same road transport
empty. waterways (equivalent to 0.625%
of the amount consumed in
A common occurrence of back-
the country), according to A major challenge for fertilizer back-
hauling freight operations is the
ESALQ-LOG, National Land hauling freight is the intersection
export of soybean and maize (grains)
Transportation Agency (ANTT) between grain export and fertilizer
to the ports with the return flow of
and National Waterway import windows.
fertilizers. The greater the quantity
Transportation Agency (ANTAQ).
exported of grains by the road mode, Figure 3 shows the evolution of
the greater the supply of vehicles for (ii) The six largest grain export ports grain exports (soybean and corn),
the movement of fertilizers and, more are also the largest fertilizer fertilizer imports and the ratio
importantly, the lower the price is for importers in the country between import and export in recent
the back-hauling operation. (Paranaguá - PR, Rio Grande - RS, years. It is interesting to note that the
Santos - SP, São Francisco do Sul largest volume of fertilizer imports
There are some important
- SC, Vitória - ES and São Luís - usually occurs in the second half
characteristics that ensure adequate
MA) and account for more than of the year (planting season of the
logistics of back-hauling freights
80% of exports and imports of main agricultural crops) - often not
relating grains and fertilizers:
such products. More specifically, coinciding with peaks of grain exports.
(i) The logistics of importing the ports of Santos and Paranaguá Overall, at peak periods of grain
fertilizers from ports is completed are responsible for the exports export, the ratio between import and
predominantly by road. In 2016, of 51.5% of grains and 50.0% of export is around 20%, while in the
for example, the country moved imports of fertilizers. Figure 1 peak period of import of fertilizer the
only 4.3 mn t of fertilizer using shows the main flow of fertilizer ratio increases significantly.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 57


Figure 3. Evolution of grain freight road prices (route: Rio Verde, GO to Santos, SP), fertilizer freight road (route: Rio Verde, GO to Santos,
SP) and ratio between freight prices of fertilizers and grains
Source: Freight Information System – SIFRECA (2017) from ESALQ-LOG Group

In 2016 the country realised a • Need to clean transport equipment For example, Figure 4 presents a map
reduction in the grain harvest, after transporting fertilizer illustrating for each Brazilian region
reducing the volume of exports mainly can increase costs and reduce the most competitive import port in
in the second semester. In this case, productivity in the transportation terms of road freight prices in October
the ratio between import and export cycle 2017. It can also be interpreted as the
increased drastically to 160% - a area of influence of the import port for
situation where the fertilizer ceased distribution of fertilizers.
to be a return freight to be a one-way 2) I nformation for For the region of Northern Mato
freight. This scenario was reflected in decision-making in Grosso, the most advantageous port
the behavior of freight prices, as shown fertilizer logistics in terms of the price of road freight
in Figure 3. The Group of Research and Extension for import of fertilizers is Santos (SP),
Other challenges related to the back- in Agroindustrial Logistics - ESALQ- with an average price of BRL211.88/t.
hauling of fertilizer freights involve: LOG (see: http://esalqlog.esalq.usp. In this analysis, it is possible to identify
br/en/), from University of São Paulo, that the port of Paranaguá presents an
• Lack of synchronization between carries out weekly monitoring of additional value when compared with
logistics operations on the port agricultural freight prices in Brazil Santos (+BRL7.60/t, for example).
increases the cycle time of the driver, for agribusiness products - including
who may choose to return empty ESALQ-LOG also generates fertilizer
fertilizers - and disseminates those
to the source in order to be more freight price forecasts for future
values through the Information
productive harvests to assist in decision-
System for Freights - SIFRECA. In
making, ranging from fertilizer
• Time demand for return cargo by addition, an important tool called
import planning, product deliveries,
drivers affects the decision to make a ‘ESALQ-LOG Analytics’ has recently
inventory viability, freight negotiations
been published that generates
return freight - especially in the first (including barter operations).
fertilizer import price indicators for
half of the year, there is a very large
all Brazilian regions - including a port
supply of vehicles in the port and a
competitiveness analysis, price of
low import of fertilizers
freight and commercialization parity, 3) Opportunities and
• Return freight prices are often not location of logistics infrastructures challenges
very attractive for freight forwarding (ports, railways and water terminals, Good planning of fertilizer logistics
agents warehouses and fertilizer industries). involves reducing costs to deliver

58 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Figure 4. Import port differential - importing fertilizers to Brazil (October, 2017)
Source: ESALQ-LOG Analytics (2017) from ESALQ-LOG Group

Import port differential

Region: Mato Grosso North

Cheapest Port: Santos
Freight Price: BRL 211,88 /t
Paranaguá + 7.6
São Francisco + 2.6
São Luís + 2.2
Rio Grande + 33.6
Salvador + 12.8

São Luís
São Francisco do Sul
Rio Grande

a more competitive product to the concessionaires are interested in • Consolidation of the platform so that
farmer and strengthening Brazilian moving more fertilizer return cargo players in the fertilizer sector can
agribusiness. However, a number of on the railroad and have made publish the supply of return cargoes
opportunities and challenges for the investments for this, mainly in the
• Use of freight pricing models to assist
fertilizer industry in Brazil are related corridor from Santos to the state
in decision-making. This would
to the: of Mato Grosso - the largest grain
involve; import planning, inventory
producer in the country
• Increase in the efficiency of port viability and future barter trading
terminals to load fertilizers •U
 se of inventories as a strategy
• Investments in the ports of the
to reduce logistic costs by
• Increase in the efficiency of return so-called ‘Northern Arc’ in Brazil
importing fertilizers in time-
vehicles formal contracts in port to import fertilizers. The Northern
windows when there are higher
areas Arc has stood out as a new grain
grain exports, thus reducing
export corridor with high rates
• Improvement in the planning of transportation costs
of productivity and there is high
freight prices - it is important to
 onsolidation of the concept of demand for return freights -
know all the drivers/carriers that are
collaborative logistics: cooperation mainly using waterway transport
interested in the freight market of
between the various agents - contributing to a reduction in the
fertilizers as well as other products
in the chain (grain shippers, bottlenecks at traditional ports -
that correlate with this segment
fertilizer shippers and carriers) Santos and Paranaguá, for example.
(mainly grains)
to ensure an integrated planning The Northern ports are closer to Asia
• Consolidation of the multimodal of cargo handling, in order to and North America, implying lower
model for the transportation increase fluidity, productivity and maritime logistic costs and smaller
of fertilizers - the railroad profitability in a ‘win-win’ for all transit times (see figure 1).

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 59


Strategies for
crop productivity in India
by Dr. K. L. Sharma, Dr. A. K. Indoria and Dr. K. Sammi Reddy,
Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, India

Most of the Indian soils are Fertilizer consumption in India is 2. Low literacy rate and less awareness
inherently poor in crop nutrients skewed towards nitrogen and the about balanced fertilization
(major, secondary and micro N:P2O5:K2O ratio of fertilizer use has
3. Despite having subsidy on fertilizers,
nutrients). Being a tropical country, widely varied over the years.
the poor, small and marginal
the organic matter status of the
The ratio altered from 10.0:2.9:1.0 farmers, especially in rain-fed
Indian soils is also low. Due to
in the year 1996/97 to 4.3:2.0:1.0 regions are not able to afford the
extreme rainfall events, many of
in the year 2009/10. The data on purchase of multi-nutrient fertilizers
the plant nutrients are washed
consumption patterns of nutrients
away with runoff water and soil 4. Non-availability of adequate stock of
of different states in India showed
sediments during the process of different fertilizer materials during
comparatively more use of N and
water erosion. According to an the peak-cropping season
P fertilizer nutrients than K in all
estimate, annually about 6-7 mn
the parts of the country. Based on 5. Inadequacy of the number of
t of soil and fertilizer nutrients
the studies conducted on 'nutirent soil testing laboratories, poor
are lost from the productive
removal' in different crops in India, infrastructure and a lack of trained
cropland. Nitrogen is known to
a net negative balance of 9.7 t of and qualified staff to handle the soil
be one of the most important
N+P2O5+K2O has recently been samples
inputs of fertilizers in agricultural
reported (Source: Indian Fertilizer
production. When it is applied in
Scenario 2014, Department of
inadequate amount, productivity
of crops and produce quality both
Fertilizers Ministry of Chemicals and Possible approaches
Fertilizers Government of India).
suffers. If the fertilizer nutrients are for ensuring balanced
applied indiscriminately without fertilization
considering the crop removal
pattern and without any diagnostic
Causes of imbalance Various approaches have been

soil tests, there is every likelihood of fertilization in India identified to enhance the ability to
fine-tune nutrient management
imbalanced fertilization. The aim of balanced fertilization
decisions and develop the site-specific
is to ensure increased crop yields,
nutrient management plan for each
better quality of produce, enhanced
field. Some of these could be listed as
Fertilizer use trends in soil fertility, higher nutrient use
(i) regression analysis with appropriate
India efficiency and less nutrient losses
response function for maximum
and consequently less environmental
In 1960, fertilizer consumption in India yield and maximum economic
pollution. In India, some of the
was below 1 lakh t, in 2010 it was 268 yields of crops; (ii) targeted yield
predominant factors responsible for
lakh t. Some conservative estimates concept for achieving desired yield
imbalanced nutrient use in soil are:
reveal that India will require more goals depending upon the farmer’s
than 400 lakh t of chemical fertilizers 1. Fertilizer consumption is highly resource investment capacities and
by the year 2020. skewed towards N application management capabilities (iii) critical

60 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


soil test values as the extractable
nutrient concentration in soil above Figure 1: Comparison of P use efficiency of single super phosphate (SSP), soluble P
(KH2PO4) and Nano-P. (Source: Tarafdar et al, 2015, Indian J. Fert., Vol. 11 (12), pg. 46-51)
which an economic yield (or quality)
response to added nutrient is unlikely.
Nutrient levels are considered
sufficient when the concentration is
just above the critical soil test level;
(iv) site-specific nutrient management
(SSNM) strives to enable farmers
to dynamically adjust fertilizer use
to optimally fill the deficit between
the nutrient needs of a high yielding
crop and the nutrient supply from
naturally occurring indigenous
sources, including soil, crop residues,
manures, and irrigation water; (v)
integrated nutrient management
approaches cover the integration of
possible sources (organic, inorganic
bio fertilizer) of the nutrient supply;
drainage, liming (acid soils) and management. Choice in the variety of
(vi) soil test based recommendations
- these play a vital role because they application of gypsum (in sodic soils) crop is also important in determining
not only ensure the balanced nutrition can considerably enhance NUE. NUE.
of crops but also avoid the wasteful Destruction of soil texture, such as
use expensive input; (vii) precision ‘puddling’ in rice may lower the NUE
agriculture is another method which in wheat in the rice-wheat cropping iii) Plant approach
involves managing the right source system. The physiological, biochemical,
at the right rate, right time and in the molecular aspects such as
right place using the right tools and/or Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL),
machinery. ii) Crop management approach MicroRNAs (mi-RNA) technology
A good agronomic package (best and transgenic approaches as well as
management practices) required for NUE can be targeted to improve crop
Approaches to increase high yields include, the right variety, productivity. Biotechnology can be
‘Nutrient Use Efficiency’ a desired seed rate, an optimum date applied to enhance the discovery and
(NUE) of sowing, an effective weed control validation of genes controlling NUE
Nutrient use efficiency (NUE) is a and necessary disease and pest and its component traits, to develop
critically important concept in the
evaluation of crop production systems.
The main reason for low NUE is that
nitrogen is lost from soil in different
forms (leaching, volatilization and
denitrification) at different crop stages.
Similarly, in the case of phosphorus
and potassium, fixation is the main
problem. The objective of nutrient use
is to increase the overall performance
of cropping systems by providing
economically optimum nourishment
to the crop while minimizing nutrient
losses from the field. Numerous
management and environmental
factors - including plant water status -
interact to influence NUE.

i) Soil management approach

Since crop yield is the determining
factor for NUE, soil factors that affect
crop yield, such as, pH, initial fertility, Figure 2. Performance of Sorghum crop (Var. CSV 27) under minimum tillage+ 60 kg N ha-1+
30 kg P2O5+ crop residue recycling before maturity in rain fed Alfisol soils at Hyderabad
texture, structure, topography and

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 61


Figure 3: Performance of Sorghum crop (Var. CSV 27) under minimum tillage+ 60 kg N ha-1+ 30 kg P2O5+ crop residue recycling at maturity in
rain fed Alfisol soils at Hyderabad

molecular markers for accelerating world. Split application of N is a well- to enhance NUE. Based on the
breeding progress independent established practice adopted in most long-term fertilizer experiments
of growth environment, as well as of the crops grown under irrigation. (LTFE), it is reported that a good NUE
introduce transgenic processes was maintained in the presence of
Balanced NPK Fertilization:
that modify key physiological farmyard manure. Legumes as a green
Balanced NPK fertilization can
developments that would contribute manure or as dual-purpose crop (grain
certainly increase NUE and it has
to NUE. + green manure) or as intercrop can
received considerable attention in
contribute up to 40-90 kg N ha-1 and
India. At Ludhiana, the Apparent
thus reduce fertilizer N application
iv) Fertilizer management Recovery of N (ARN) increased from
to crops. For example, there is recent
approaches 16.2% to 30.2 % in maize when P was
evidence that the productivity and N
applied along with N, and to 32% when
Method of application: In India, it uptake in rice-wheat cropping system
PK was applied along with N. In wheat,
is reported that band placement of with 60 kg N ha-1 + Sesbania green
the ARN value was 32.2 % for N, 51.4%
urea solution at 50 kg N ha resulted manure or mungbean (Vigna radiata)
for NP and 64% for NPK. With 45%
in higher rice yield and improved residue left after one picking of pods
soils deficient in S and 48% deficient in
agronomic and recovery efficiency applied to rice and 40 kgN ha-1 applied
Zn and some in B, especially in eastern
than the conventional three split to wheat was on par with 120 kg N ha-1
India, the emphasis has now shifted
applications of urea. The common applied to rice and 40 kg N ha-1 applied
to site-specific nutrient management
practice of surface broadcasting to wheat. However, incorporation
of N fertilizer leads to ammonia in soil of Sesbania green manure
volatilization, which can be reduced by Integrated Nutrient Management: or mungbean residue doubled the
deep placement of fertilizer N. Foliar Integrated nutrient management partial factor productivity of fertilizer
application of N is reported to have (INM) or integrated plant nutrient N (PFPN) when compared with the
high recovery efficiency across the supply (IPNS) is yet another approach application of inorganic N alone. In

62 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


addition, bio-fertilizers can also aid
N requirements and enhance the
availability of native or applied P.
Nitrification inhibitors (NIs):
Among various nitrogen inhibitors,
N-Serve nitrapyrin, AM (2-amino-
4-chloro-6-methyl pyrimidine), ST
(sodium thiosulphate) and DCD
(dicyndiamide) have been widely
tested across the world. It is found that
under field capacity, moisture regime,
nitrification rate (nitrate expressed as
percentage of total mineral N) after
40 days of incubation was 78% for
N-Serve and 76% with AM. Similarly,
nitrapyrin, was reported to inhibit
nitrification and increase corn yield.
Neem cake coated urea (NCCU),
developed at the Indian Agricultural
Research Institute, was primarily
based on the nitrification inhibiting
properties of neem. It is reported that Figure 4. Castor crop with Conservation tillage +60 kg N ha-1 + 30 kg P2O5 ha-1 + Residue @
2t ha-1 in rain fed Alfisol soils.
after three weeks of incubation, the
per cent of inhibition of nitrification by
N-Serve, ST and NCCU was 90%, 49%
improvement in use-efficiency was ‘mud ball’ technique of application of
and 5%, respectively.
noticed in the case of P, Zn, Fe and fertilizer N. In this technique, a small
Urease inhibitors: Out of Mg nanoparticles. The results clearly amount of fertilizer N is placed in
several urease inhibitors, the showed that use-efficiency of P can be the centre of a mud ball and the balls
phenylphosphorodiamidate (PPDA) improved many-fold when P is applied are sealed with mud and placed in
and [N-(n-butyl) thiophosphoric in nano-form (see figure 1). soil. The USG in rice on medium to
triamide (NBPT)] have been tested for
Urea Super Granule (USG): The USG heavy soils can increase the NUE by
rice and the results did not show their
was developed taking a lead from the 10-20%.
advantage in increasing grain yield.
However, there is a need to quantify
the leaching losses.
Coated urea: To increase the nitrogen
Strategies for improving fertilizer use efficiency
use efficiency of the urea pills, these
Some of the following strategies need to be followed in the Indian context for ensuring
are coated with different coating
balance fertilization:
agents (neem oil, Karanj oil, dynamic
• Creation of awareness among the farmers about the importance of balanced
compound deposition (DCD), lac nutrition
Rasin, polymers, Vitex negundo leaf
• Soil test based fertilizer application should be made mandatory to avail the fertilizer
extract). Neem coated urea was found subsidy
superior to normal urea. Several • Rejuvenation of the soil testing labs by way of equipping the labs with state-of-the-
fertilizer manufacturers in India art equipment, automation, computerization, posting skilled/trained manpower
currently use this technique, or its • Public/Private partnerships need to be explored to further develop the infrastructure
modifications. Increase in rice yield for soil test based fertilizer applications
with neem micro-emulsion coated • Incentives for the use of organic manures including farmyard manure, green manure
urea (NMCU) varied from 6.1% to 11.9 and composts
% over urea. Superiority of NMCU over • Farmers should be educated about the timing, method and source of fertilizer
prilled urea has been reported in many application to get the best output from fertilizers
parts of the country. • In heavy textured soil, 50% of the nitrogenous fertilizers should be basally placed and
the remaining amount should be top-dressed in one split only. However, in case of
Nano-fertilizer: The nutrient use light textured soils, nitrogen should be applied in three equal splits.
efficiencies of conventional fertilizers
• In paddy fields, under flooded conditions or in calcareous soils, the use of slow
rarely exceed 30–35%, 18-20%, and release nitrogenous fertilizers such as sulphur coated urea, urea super granules,
35-40% for N, P, and K which has neem coated or neem blended urea should be advocated
remained constant for decades. • The phosphatic and potassic fertilizers should be basally placed in the root zone
Tremendous improvement of NUE was • Prevention of erosion and run off is another management strategy to control the loss
observed in plants after application of nutrients, reducing pollution and maintaining soil productivity
of nanoparticles. In general, 3-4 times

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 63

shipping & freight news

Shipping & freight news

International Raw Materials LTD (IRM)

IRM adds additional by both the UP and the BNSF, Longview Specific benefits associated with the
will be its flagship location for dry-bulk refinancing transactions include the
terminal to its North cargo movements in a long-term public- following:
American Pacific coast private partnership with the ILWU and
portfolio the local Longview community.
• Extension of tenor on all outstanding
debt through 2022
International Raw Materials LTD (IRM) is
now operating the Bridgeview Terminal • Payoff of the PIK note bearing a cost of
at the Port of Longview, Washington, a Eagle Bulk Shipping approximately 15%
prime deep-draft location spanning 835 completes USD265 mn • Reduction of annual interest expense
acres on the Columbia River. refinancing by approximately USD2.6 million
With two cargo ships already scheduled Eagle Bulk Shipping has announced
that through its wholly-owned •
Elimination of exposure to rising
to dock, this move by the Philadelphia-
subsidiaries, Eagle Bulk Shipco LLC interest rates on approximately 60%
based company will significantly
and Eagle Shipping LLC, it has entered of Company’s debt
increase its fertilizer and industrial
chemical import and export capacity in into a series of refinancing transactions, • Facilitates the potential payment of
the western United States and western including the repayment in full of dividends and alternate uses of cash
Canada. Eagle Shipping’s outstanding first and flow, including fleet expansion
second lien credit facilities. As a result
Already operating several US west of these transactions, it has extended Gary Vogel, Eagle Bulk's CEO,
coast deep-water liquid terminals, IRM the maturities of the outstanding debt commented, "The successful
plans to significantly invest in facilities of its subsidiaries through to 2022 and refinancing of our balance sheet
upgrades including enhanced unit train achieved additional financial flexibility on favourable terms is a strong
handling capacity at Bridgeview. Served with respect to its free cash flow. endorsement by our lenders and the

64 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

shipping & freight news
POTASH Price type Units Timing Low High Latest Change Date
Dry potash Vancouver - China 60-65kt outright USD/t prompt 18 20 19 0 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Red Sea - WC India 25-30kt outright USD/t prompt 17 19 18 0 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Baltic Sea - Brazil 30-40kt outright USD/t prompt 21 25 23 0 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Baltic Sea - SE Asia 25-30kt outright USD/t prompt 54 60 57 2.5 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Vancouver - SE Asia 25-30kt outright USD/t prompt 38 40 39 0 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Baltic Sea - China 60-65kt outright USD/t prompt 33 35 34 -1 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Baltic Sea - US Nola 50-55kt outright USD/t prompt 16 18 17 -1 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Vancouver - Brazil 30-35kt outright USD/t prompt 32 34 33 0 30-Nov-17
Dry potash Hamburg - Brazil 30-35kt outright USD/t prompt 19 24 21.5 0 30-Nov-17

NPK Price type Units Timing Low High Latest Change Date
Baltic-China 50-60kt outright USD/t prompt 38 39 38.5 1 7-Dec-17
Morocco-WC Africa 15-20kt outright USD/t prompt 45 47 46 1 7-Dec-17
Norway-Brazil 20-25kt outright USD/t prompt 23 25 24 1 7-Dec-17

SULPHUR Units Low High Date

50-60kt – Vancouver-China US$/t 19 21 7-Dec-17
Below all 30-35kt 7-Dec-17
Mid East – EC India US$/t 14 15 7-Dec-17
Mid east – North/River China US$/t 21 23 7-Dec-17
Mid East – South China US$/t 18 20 7-Dec-17
Mid East – Brazil US$/t 18 20 7-Dec-17
Mid East – North Africa US$/t 22 24 7-Dec-17
Black Sea – North Africa US$/t 21 23 7-Dec-17
Black Sea – Brazil US$/t 21 23 7-Dec-17
Baltic – Brazil US$/t 23 25 7-Dec-17
Baltic – North Africa US$/t 21 23 7-Dec-17
35-40kt – US Gulf - Brazil US$/t 18 20 7-Dec-17

capital markets of the company’s refinancing risk while simultaneously the two states. The project, of BRL5.5
business model and validates the reducing our exposure to rising billion, is stopped at the Ministry
actions that we have taken over the last interest rates. We are pleased to have of Transport, blocking private
two years to reposition Eagle Bulk as completed this refinancing and are investments. Political pressure comes
the leading active owner-operator of grateful to our lenders for their on- at a time when, especially, the State of
Supramax/Ultramax vessels. Through going support.” Rio is experiencing difficulties, with
this process, we have also created the delays in the salaries of its employees
financial flexibility to pursue accretive and insufficient resources to invest in
opportunities and explore other ways Governors of Rio and infrastructure and even in basic areas
to return value to our shareholders." Espírito Santo push for such as health and safety.

Frank De Costanzo, Eagle Bulk’s CFO, railroad linking the two The railroad, named EF-118 and
said, “These refinancing transactions Brazilian states extending 577 km, will connect the
include immediate benefits, including The governors of Rio de Janeiro and the cities of Rio and Vitória, passing
a reduction in our cost of capital, the Espírito Santo, have signed a letter that through two ports relevant to the
removal of an expensive note bearing will be addressed to President Michel development of the two states: Açu
an interest rate of approximately 15%, Temer, reiterating the importance of Port, in São João da Barra (Norte
and the elimination of any near-term installing a railway corridor between Fluminense) , and the Central Port,

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 65

shipping & freight news

in Presidente Kennedy (ES). The NITROGEN Units High Low Date

latter is still in the environmental
Arab Gulf - US Gulf 45kt US$/t 25 26 7-Dec-17
licensing phase. The expectation, if the
project leaves the paper, is that loads Arab Gulf - Thailand 30kt US$/t 17 18 7-Dec-17
such as ornamental stones, iron ore, Mideast - Brazil 35kt US$/t 19 20 7-Dec-17
steel products, among others, to be Baltic - Brazil 30kt US$/t 22 23 7-Dec-17
transported along the rail corridor and
China - India 60kt US$/t 14 15 7-Dec-17
exported by the two ports. The railroad
will also be an alternative to the grain Algeria - Brazil 30kt US$/t 17 18 7-Dec-17
outflow of the Midwest, since it will Algeria - French bay 12kt US$/t 15 16 7-Dec-17
connect to the railroad that connects Baltic - EC Mexico 30kt US$/t 23 24 7-Dec-17
Rio to Santos, the country's main
Baltic - WC Mexico 25kt US$/t 39 40 7-Dec-17
exporter of agricultural commodities.
The EF-118 project was planned in the PHOSPHATES Units High Low Date
Logistics Investment Program (PIL),
Morocco – Brazil 30kt US$/t 18 16 7-Dec-17
launched in 2012, and was maintained
in the second version of the PIL, 2015. Tampa – Brazil 30kt US$/t 27 26 7-Dec-17
Initially budgeted at BRL7.6 billion, the Baltic – Brazil 30kt US$/t 29 27 7-Dec-17
investment was revised downwards KSA – EC India 30kt US$/t 19 17 7-Dec-17
after studies of feasibility and load
demand made by the companies
Prumo Logística, owner of Açu Port,
and by the Central Port. The ease of the new test area will benefit a series of 254,157 t of the substance valued at
implementing the project is that this ground-breaking technology projects. N27.95 bn from eight vessels.
stretch of rail has already existed. "The move towards greater autonomy The fertilizer was ferried to the
About 150 km of the railroad track at sea has the potential to transform seaports by Orient Tiger laden with
would be reused. Besides, there would maritime operations and while the 19, 892 t; SFL Humber, 37,800 t; Nord
be no need to do expropriations. There technology has now been proven, Mumba, 3,570 t; Desert Calm, 46,200 t;
have already been four public hearings we look towards the regulations. Team Tango, 13, 199 t; Silver Lake, 25,
on the project throughout 2016. Establishment of these test-beds are 000 t; Skala Wolid, 31,246 t; Atlantic
an important step, as it shows close co- Tramp, 36,250 t and Ionian Eagle,
operation between the people making 41,000 t.
Norway opens new test- the technology and vessels and the
bed for autonomous organisations developing the rules Also, between May and June 2017,
vessels that will allow them to operate," says some 343,657 t of muriate of potash
Egil Haugsdal, President, Kongsberg (MOP) arrived Lagos and Tincan Island
Norway is now opening a new test-bed ports, while 359,006 t of NPK were
Maritime, in the press release.
for sailing with autonomous vessels. imported into the country between July
The country's maritime authorities and November.
Norwegian Maritime Administration
and the Norwegian Coastal Federal government In 2016, the Federal Government signed
Administration have designated the imports NGN110 bn a Memorandum of Understanding
new area in Oslofjord by Horten, fertilizer through Lagos (MoU) with Morocco to import NPK.
which has opened for Norwegian and port in one year Also, some companies in Europe
international organizations to test the The Federal Government imported were contracted to export MOP to the
technology, says Kongsberg in a press 1 mn t (20 mn 50kg bags) of fertilizer country.
release. worth NGN110 bn through Lagos and
Tincan Island ports between January Following the agreement, government
Kongsberg along with several other
and first week of December 2017. promised that 1 mn t of NPK and MOP
players have been calling for a test-bed
fertilizer would be exported into the
area in this location, as it is, among other The fertilizer, imported from Morocco country in five batches of 200,000 t per
factors, located close to Kongsberg and Europe, is being sold to farmers at batch before the end of 2017 as part of
Maritime's facilities in Horten. The NGN5,500/bag. efforts to find solution to food shortage
Norwegian company is involved in
Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria and to further reduce the price of food
several projects related to autonomous
has taken delivery of at least 957,000 t in the country.
shipping this year, and Kongsberg's
of the product from ENL Consortium
collaboration with fertilizer producer In the MoU, government explained
terminal at Lagos Port and JosepDam
Yara Birkeland has drawn several that it would control 40% of the shares,
terminal in Tincan Island Port.
headlines. Kongsberg is also working while IML Limited, a consortium of
on an autonomous offshore vessel. Findings revealed that both Lagos and private local investors, would hold the
According to Kongsberg, the location of Tincan ports have taken delivery of remaining 60% equity stake.

66 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Novel additives
for enhanced fertilizer
by Daniel Zweifel, Technical Service & Development Manager,
The Dow Chemical Company, Switzerland,
Yuri Alencar, Research and Development Manager,
The Dow Chemical Company, USA
Wanglin Yu, Research and Development Scientist,
The Dow Chemical Company, USA

Common issues of liquid fertilizers fertilizer. Incompatibilities can result well as DOWFAX 3B2 and DOWFAX
are poor dispersion on a plant in turbidity, separation or even 8390 Surfactants, anionic alkyl
surface, soil penetration and sedimentations, which can limit diphenyloxide disulphonates.
migration to the root zone. A key the effectiveness of the fertilizer The TRITON BG-10 product was
contributor to these problems is formulation and lead to blockage of additionally tested in blends with two
the hydrophobic conditions of soil. the equipment’s filter and hose. other nonionic surfactants, ECOSURF
The majority of fertilizer tends to EH-9 Surfactant, an alcohol alkoxylate
A research team from Dow Crop
be water based, which means that and TERGITOL 15-S-12 Surfactant,
Defense evaluated the compatibility
when it comes in contact with soil, it of concentrated fertilizers with a secondary alcohol ethoxylate. A
is likely to bead rather than infiltrate surfactants, also concentrated third combination of surfactants was
the surface, given the hydrophobic between 2-5%. This range is based also tested, TRITON H66, an anionic
condition of soil. on previous research that suggests phosphate ester, and TERGITOL 15-
the surfactant is most effective at this S-12.
Surfactants are a type of adjuvant that
reduces the surface tension of aqueous concentration level when diluted. These surfactants were chosen
solutions of fertilizers. This allows the Often, producers prefer to sell their because they have previously shown
fertilizer solution to spread, versus products in concentrated form, which excellent solubility as well as good
bead, on the surface of soil or leaves. before use, is diluted 100-200 times. wetting and spreading characteristics.
It also enables the formulation to Ideally, the surfactant is incorporated Additionally, complementary
migrate through soil to the plant’s root into the formulation at the elevated combinations of surfactants have
zone more efficiently. By selecting the concentration. been known to result in enhanced
appropriate surfactants, formulators The liquid fertilizers tested in the performance.
can improve a fertilizer’s wetting and study included 28-0-0 UAN, 28-0-0 Solubility of the surfactants with
penetration in the soil for enhanced 5S UANTS and 4-10-10 NPK, as they each fertilizer was tested at room
performance. are the most common solutions
temperature for several days. Turbidity,
for a broad range of applications
settlement, sedimentation and phase
and consist of two or more nutrient
separation are indicators of insufficient
Compatibility of components.
solubility. On the other hand, proper
surfactants and The surfactants used are specific to solubility is evident when the liquid is
fertilizers Dow’s portfolio and include TRITON clear and one phase. Proper solubility
A key criterion for the use of a BG-10 Surfactant, a nonionic alkyl is observed with a clear solution which
surfactant is compatibility with a polyglycoside (APG) product, as has only one phase.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 67


Figure 1. Effect of Surfactants on Fertilizer Surface Tension

Results showed excellent compatibility tension of 30-35 mN/m, which is a As described, a reduction in surface
of each fertilizer with TRITON BG-10 significant improvement in wetting tension results in a lesser likelihood
Surfactant itself as well as DOWFAX when compared to the typical of the formulation to bead on the soil
3B2 and DOWFAX 8390 Surfactants. surface tension of a surfactant-free or leaf surface. This can be observed
The combination of an APG grade fertilizer formulation, 70 mN/m. by measuring the contact angle of
with alkoxylated/ethoxylated alcohols Fertilizer formulations with more each fertilizer when combined with
produced proper compatibility with than one surfactant showed the best surfactants. Typically, each of the
the UAN and the UANTS fertilizers. results, emphasizing the benefits of three fertilizer solutions tested has a
However, the NPK fertilizer showed strategically blending products. contact angle above 90 degrees. The
slight incompatibility, which should addition of TRITON BG-50 Surfactant
deter formulators from these Surface tension was tested in each concentrated at 5% reduced the
specific combinations. Specifically, fertilizer at a 100 times dilution of contact angle below 90 degrees.
NPK fertilizer solutions tend to be fertilizer and surfactant in water. Given When optimized with ECOSURF
challenging due to high electrolyte the lack of compatibility between EH-9 Surfactant and DOWFAX 3B2
concentrations that reduce the combined surfactants and NPK at the Surfactant, the contact angle was
solubility of certain surfactants and onset of the research, NPK could not further reduced to below 75 degrees.
cause turbidity. be tested with these solutions (see A sample of the results in shown in
figure 1). figure 2.

Enhanced wetting
through formulation
Figure 2. Impact of Surfactants on Contact Angle
Each combination of liquid fertilizer
and surfactant was further tested
to understand the effect of the
formulation on wettability. This was
explored through measuring the
surface tension of each combination,
which is essentially the willingness of
the fertilizer droplet to spread across
the soil or leaf surface as opposed to
beading. High surface tension implies
low wettability, while low surface
tension suggests increased wettability
due to a greater willingness of the
formulation to spread.
The addition of surfactants to
fertilizers showed a significant
reduction in the surface tension
of each solution. The majority of
formulations resulted in a surface

68 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Figure 3. Dynamic Surface Tension
Impact on mobility was shown to Sustainability
vary by product. While TERGITOL
L-61 Surfactant, an ethylene oxide-
considerations of
propylene oxide block-copolymer,
did not result in increased mass, As with any product introduced
TERGITOL 15-S-9, a secondary alcohol to the environment, the effects
alkoxylate, exceeded water pickup by of surfactants on water and soil
two to ten times. This highlights the composition are important to take
differing performance of surfactants into consideration when formulating.
and the value in testing several options Surfactants continue to evolve
to create the most effective fertilizer as companies develop a deeper
formulation. understanding of their impact on
the environment and human health
and more stringent regulations are
Agile surfactant put into place. Efforts to reduce
molecules critical to aquatic toxicity of surfactants are
performance widespread and many biodegradable
options are available in the market,
The time between the formation of a breaking down rapidly to reduce
fertilizer droplet at the exit of the spray the risk of run-off into aquatic
nozzle to when it hits the soil or leaf environments. Additionally, due to
is critical to the effectiveness of any more efficient wetting and uptake of
fertilizer and surfactant combination. the fertilizer into plants as a result of
Increased fertilizer During this time, the surfactant needs the use of surfactants, it is possible
mobility for higher to “unfold” its surface activity. This for applicators to reduce fertilizer use
efficiency occurs through a rearrangement of without losing the nutrition benefits.
the molecules so that the surfactant
For a liquid fertilizer applied directly to The benefits of surfactants are
molecules move the droplet’s surface
soil, its mobility within the soil matrix (see figure 3). Because the soil tends to clearly evidenced in this research.
is critical to its effectiveness. The be hydrophobic, it’s critical that enough Combinations of surfactants and
efficiency of fertilizer depends on the time elapses for this arrangement to fertilizers enable increased wetting of
surface tension of the fertilizer as well take place and the observed benefits in soil and leaf surfaces and improved
as soil composition. Fertilizer reaches this research to result. mobility in soil for faster travel to the
a plant’s root zone by diffusing through root zone as well as more efficient
water found in the soil, moving from The key parameter to measure this pickup by the plant. Compatibility
an area of high solution concentration process is the dynamic surface tension is key to harness these positive
to low. of the fertilizer. A dynamic surface benefits however, and it is essential
tension below 35-40mNm is preferred. for formulators to understand the
A standardized soil model of
A variety of surfactants were tested to variety of surfactants available in the
hydrophobically modified silica
determine how differing chemistries market and evaluate combinations in
sand was used to study the impact
affect dynamic surface tension. Each practice.
of surfactants on fertilizer mobility.
showed an adequate dynamic surface
A diverse selection of representative
tension reduction within the first
surfactants was used to observe the Dow Crop Defense has a range
100ms of leaving the spray nozzle
significant performance difference of solutions for enhanced liquid
when tested with NPK fertilizer.
between each. The resulting range in performance fertilizer application, as shown in
again emphasizes the importance of the research. Dow’s surfactants
Water pickup was measured by
selecting the appropriate surfactant are available in several grades,
recording the mass increase of a
chemistry for the fertilizer type. including options with low-aquatic
packed hydrophobic soil column over
toxicity (EC 50 >10mg/l) and ready
time upon the contact of the bottom It’s important to note that the biodegradability (OECD 301), to
of the soil column with a surfactant maximum time for the process to meet the needs of a producer
solution, a method representative occur differs in practice, specifically and enable simple formulations
of the Washburn sorption test. Each the height of the applicator impacts which low foam production.
surfactant was concentrated at 0.1%, the time allowed. At 3ft from the soil Dow also provides formulations
which corresponds to the typical or plant surface, 100ms is a reasonable support and offers complementary
surfactant concentration in a diluted duration of time for the benefits of products such as rheology
liquid fertilizer product. surfactants to result. modifiers, cellulosics, preservatives
and polyurethanes. For more
information, visit
Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow.

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 69

people & events

People & events

EuroChem appoints Dmitry Strashnov in Canada. He then fulfilled a series of sales and senior
management roles with Agrium in both the Retail and
as Group COO Wholesale business units, including Vice President of Sales,
EuroChem Group has announced the appointment of Dmitry Marketing and Distribution for Agrium's global business.
Strashnov as its Chief Operating Officer, a new role based at its Directly prior to joining Agrinos, Mr. Helash was Managing
corporate headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. Director of Agrium Retail Canada, a leading global agriculture
Mr Strashnov is tasked with the day-to-day running of solutions provider.
EuroChem’s global business and driving further expansion "Kevin knows the agricultural crop industry from the bottom
across the world. He will report to Group CEO, Dmitry up," said Jean Baptiste Oldenhove, Agrinos Chairman of
Strezhnev. the Board. "He has a successful track record of building,
Mr Strashnov was Chief Executive Officer of Russian Post from managing and leading sales organizations and delivering
2013 to 2017. Before that he was CEO and President of the growth and bottom line profitability. In addition, he has
Russian subsidiary of Tele2, and previously served as CEO of operated at regional, national and global levels. Kevin's
Philips Consumer Electronics in Russia. experience and leadership skills make him the right person
to take over Agrinos now as the company is experiencing fast
“At an exciting time of growth for EuroChem, we were growth and acceleration across the Americas, Europe and
looking for someone who would significantly strengthen Asia."
our management team and we are delighted to have Dmitry
Strashnov join as chief operating officer,” said Dmitry "The Agrinos team has developed a top-tier platform based
Strezhnev. “His extensive experience and successful track on its proprietary HYT® technology and a proven track record
record will enable him to make an important and positive of efficacy," said Kevin Helash. "In addition, Agrinos has a
impact on our company.” world class sales, marketing and distribution network which
provides the company with an extensive global footprint
Dmitry Strashnov stated: “I am thrilled to be joining EuroChem to deliver products to the market. I am looking forward to
at this important time in the company’s development. I look leading the Agrinos team to bring sustainable, robust and
forward to supporting EuroChem’s further growth and global value-added solutions to the agricultural industry and
expansion.” increasing prosperity for growers."
The current CEO, Ry Wagner, is stepping down from his
Sulphuric acid leader at Trammo position and will act first as advisor to the CEO, then as an
advisor to the Board of Directors on strategic corporate
Trammo Inc. has appointed Sarah Terrell as Product Manager of
Sulphuric Acid and as a member of Trammo’s Executive Board.
Ms. Terrell joined Trammo in 2011 as Manager Sulphuric Acid
and in 2014 was promoted to Vice President – Trading.
Pinnacle agriculture announces new
Trammo’s Chief Executive Officer Brent Hart said: “Sarah leadership appointment
is a veteran of the sulphuric acid business. Prior to joining
Pinnacle Operating Corporation is pleased to announce Mark
Trammo, she was Director of Trading at Keytrade AG, Product
Pedro has been named as its Executive Vice President and
Manager at SATCO and Purchasing Manager at Noranda
Chief Financial Officer effective. In this role, Mr. Pedro will
in Chile. Ms. Terrell will be heading an experienced team of
be responsible for leading Pinnacle’s financial operations, as
trading, chartering and logistics personnel. We look forward
well as providing overall strategic direction along with CEO,
to working with her in her new position.”
Rob Marchbank.
Trammo began trading sulphuric acid in 1999. Today, Trammo
“Mark is an experienced and strategic financial leader with
is the world’s largest sulphuric acid trading company, with an
a robust background in distribution,” Rob Marchbank,
annual volume of 3 mn t, approximately 2.4 mn t of which is
President and CEO of Pinnacle Agriculture said. “The
seaborne trade and 600,000 t is distributed in local markets.
agriculture industry is in the midst of an evolution and Mark
has a strong track record of transforming and developing
industry-leading companies. I am very excited to add Mark
Agrinos announces appointment of to the Pinnacle leadership team. His combination of strategic
Kevin Helash as new CEO and operational experience will ensure Pinnacle’s ability to
The Agrinos Board of Directors is delighted to announce it drive improved profitable growth.”
has appointed Kevin Helash as Chief Executive Officer for the
Mr. Pedro brings more than 20 years of finance experience
with an extensive background in financial planning and
Mr. Helash began his career in the agricultural crop input operations, management and strategy, and a deep knowledge
industry 27 years ago as a sales representative with Agrium of the distribution industry to Pinnacle.

70 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Critical for crop production
by Christian Schmalz, Marketing Director, UlexAndes-USA

Despite requiring small quantities,

micronutrients play a complex role
in crop development and health.
Manganese (Mn) as a critical
micronutrient is widely accepted,
playing a key role in several
biochemical reactions; particularly
photosynthesis. Yet securing
reliable sources continues to be
challenging—most recently impacted
by China’s economic slowdown.
Lesser-recognized manganese
producing countries are responding
to this demand and delivering high
quality MnSO4 to the agriculture
marketplace. Vast amounts of both
metallic and non-metallic resources
in the Andes Mountains, coupled with
their reputation for quality business
practices and rich mining history, are
positioning Peru and Chile to actively
compete in the US agriculture market. Manganese is closely related to iron, Manganese: Agronomy
and to a lesser extent zinc, copper,
magnesium and calcium. Due to their Although plants rely on manganese
Manganese: similarity, manganese and iron can primarily for photosynthesis, a variety
of other biological functions require
The element compete for plant uptake.
manganese including chlorophyll
The use of manganese dates back Coincidently, their deficiencies/ synthesis, nitrate assimilation, lipid
to the Stone Age where it can be toxicities also have similar visual metabolism, enzyme activation
seen in cave paintings. Belonging symptoms: interveinal chlorosis of and vitamin formation. In
to the transition series of elements, the young leaves. The only true way photosynthesis, Manganese (Mn)
manganese is second only to iron (Fe) to distinguish between iron and plays an important electron transport
in abundance. It commonly forms manganese deficiency is through role in redox reactions. It also plays
several minerals including pyrolusite diagnostic testing [which is also a a role in building carbohydrates and
(MnO2), rhodochrosite (MnCO3), NOP/OMRI requirement for organic metabolizing nitrogen, especially in
manganite (MnO). It is also widely use]. corn. As a cofactor, Mn reportedly
distributed as an accessory element.
The behaviour of Mn in soil is very activates over 35 enzymes necessary
Manganese ore containing more complex, and is impacted greatly for plant health and vigor including
than 20% manganese has not been by the pH conditions and organic lignin, phytoalexins, peroxidase and
produced domestically since 1970. matter. In addition, the level of Mn is superoxide dismutase. Impairment
South Africa accounts for over 75% of controlled by the geochemistry of the of these functions in crops increases
the worlds identified resources, with source rock and the redox conditions susceptibility to pathogen attack and
Ukraine accounting for another 10%. of the environment. reduces stress tolerance. Most of the

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 71


Table 1. Stats from USGS most recent report Table 2.

Country Production Resources Form Chemical Formula % Mn

South Africa 4,700 200,000 Manganese Carbonate MnCO3 31
China 3,000 43,000 Manganese Chelate MnEDTA 12
Australia 2,500 91,000 Manganese Chloride MnCl2 17
Gabon 2,000 22,000 Manganese Dioxide MnO2 63
Brazil 1,100 116,000 Manganese Oxide MnO 41-60
India 950 52,000 Manganese Sulfate MnSO4 28-32
Ghana 480 12,000
Deficiencies occur in neutral-
Malaysia 200 n/a to-high pH soils
(data in ‘1000 MT)

Manganese used by the plant comes fertilization is recommended if soil to raise the pH. Correcting drainage
from the soil solution and reaches tests < 10ppm. In-row bands (1-5 issues that have lead to waterlogging
plant roots by a process called mass lb/A) or foliar (1-2 lb/A) applications will also remove one element
flow and diffusion. in soil corrected to the proper pH are impacting manganese toxicity.
typically recommended. Broadcast
applications are not recommended
because manganese that is not
Manganese: Application concentrated quickly converts to
Manganese sulphate is the most unavailable formats. As manganese Manganese (Mn) toxicity is associated
common form used in plant and toxicity often results from an acidic soil with waterlogged soils where
animal feed industries. Manganese pH, lime or dolomite can be applied anaerobic conditions are present, or


• Asparagus • Mint • Potato • Alfalfa • Onions

• Legumes • Tea • Cauliflower • Potatoes
• Beets • Small grains
• Cauliflower • Sorghum
• Citrus • Soybeans
• Large-seeded legumes • Sweet corn
• Beans • Radish • Sorghum • Lettuce • Tobacco
• Lettuce • Raspberry • Wheat
• Oat • Soybean • Barley
• Onion • Spinach


• Sandy, leachable soils

• Soils with a water pH reading below 5.0 or above 6.5
• High-organic matter or muck soils
• Saturated or waterlogged soils
• Soil during drought, cold or wet growing conditions

72 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


acidic soil conditions where the pH Table 3.
< 5.5. Anaerobic conditions cause
higher oxides of manganese to be Crop Deficiency Nl Toxicity*
reduced to plant-available Mn2+. At Alfalfa 15-25 26-150 >300
a pH <5.5, manganese and oxygen Corn <15 26-150 >200
react spontaneously. Similar to
Cereal crops <10 26-150 >300
boron toxicity, manganese toxicity
begins with the burning of the tips Potato <10 20-200 >400
and margins of older leaves or as Soybean <15 20-100 >250
necrotic spots. Due to an induced *in ppm.
iron deficiency, manganese toxicity
also frequently causes pale or yellow Table 4.
patches between veins in younger
plants (interveinal chlorosis). These Factors Balance Availability
necrotic lesions can spread until pH pH< 5.5 enhance Mn uptake
the entire leaf area is compromised. pH pH> 7.0 reduce Mn uptake
Eventually leaves turn yellow and are
Organic Matter High OM reduce Mn uptake
Iron (Fe) High iron reduce Mn uptake
Silicon (Si) reduce Mn uptake
Deficiency Nitrogen (N) Low nitrogen reduce Mn uptake
Manganese deficiency negatively Sulphur (S) Low sulphur reduce Mn uptake
impacts dry matter and yields,
Moisture "waterlogged" enhance Mn uptake
weakens resistance to pathogens and
reduces drought and heat tolerance.
Due to low phloem mobility in
plants, manganese deficiency can
mimic iron; first symptoms develop
in younger leaves in the form of
interveinal chlorosis. Deficiencies
are most likely to occur in neutral-
to-high pH soils that are also high in
organic matter or as a result of low
fertilizer application rate.

Manganese: Process
and production
Most manganese ore mining
occurs in open pits. Although it
can be mined from the ocean floor,
land-based mining dominates

using compact mining equipment

Manganese is the 12th most and advanced technology. Only
12th abundant element ores containing greater than
35% manganese are considered
commercially exploitable.
South Africa accounts for the majority
78% of world’s manganese resource
Hydrometallurgical and electrolytic
processes produce pure manganese.
Manganese salt, primarily MnSO4,
is the form used in the agriculture
Estimated amount of MnSO4 used
200,000 MT in fertilizer and animal feed and feed industries. Complicated
chemical redox reactions are
necessary to produce manganese
Approximately 90% of all manganese
90% is used as an alloying element in steel
sulphate (MnSO4) from manganese
dioxide (MnO2) and sulphur dioxide

Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 73


Fertilizer Focus
2 Satyendra Packaging Lacon House, 84 Theobald's Road,
London, WC1X 8NL
3 Neelam Aqua & Speciality Chem Tel: +44 (0)20 7780 4340
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23 Proquimac Agro

31 Yargus Editor:
Stefan Worsley
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46 Frit Industries Contributors:

Julia Campbell, Claira Lloyd, Stephen Mitchell,
47 Argus Fertilizer Conferences 2018 Mike Nash, Ewan Thomson, Nidhi Pandurangi,
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51 EMT Diana Bernardo, David Maher,
Andrew Kanyemba
75 Monband
76 ArrMaz Ernest Worsley Publishing Ltd


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SPECIALITIES SUPPLEMENT other major conferences
• Specialities for Californian horticulture • Aandquality product with no issue less than 40 pages

• Fertilizers for ornamental crops a copy to advertising ratio no lower than 50:50

• Bio fertilizers • Aprogressive

n experienced editorial team who pursue a
editorial policy

For details of these and other unique guarantees,

send for your media pack. Contact Fern Millican:
+44 (0) 207 199 4802

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Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 75
Better is fertilizer that doesn’t cake or generate dust.
Better is a quality fertilizer product that your customers want.
A t ArrMaz, we have the formulation expertise to help you
adapt to the demands of an evolving market.


Dust Control Solutions Anti-Caking Solutions

Better Quality Better Handling Better Economics

• Improved air quality in • Easier application in the field • Improved nutrient efficiency
the workplace
• Reduced pile set in bulk storage • Reduced loss of valuable product
• Supports compliance with
regulatory requirements • Less problematic for bulk blending • Reduced risk of customer claims

• Faster fertilizer loading / unloading • Compatible with liquid systems


76 Fertilizer FOCUS | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018