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Publication > Issue > Articles

The ultimate challenge

Summary

Feeding the world's growing population is widely recognised as one of science's most urgent challenges. Despite the gains of the original Green Revolution, which transformed farming with new crop varieties, fertilizers and irrigation techniques, the continuing rise in the world population is again threatening to outstrip the world's ability to feed itself. With rice as the most important global food crop, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is in the forefront of finding solutions to the ongoing problem of achieving a sustainable security in food production.

Abstract

One in every three people in the world depends on rice for more than half of the daily diet. Asia accounts for 90% of the global production of rice, where more than half of the world's population lives. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was established to help farmers in developing Asia grow more rice on the limited land and other available resources, and to do so without harming the environment.

IRRI is a non-profit agricultural research and training centre, and its declared mission is to improve the wellbeing of present and future generations of rice farmers and consumers, above all, those with low incomes. IRRI is based in Quezon City, in the Philippines, and to fulfil its goals, it employs about 975 scientific and support staff members, 80% ofwhom are Filipinos. About 115 scientists are recruited internationally, of whom around half are drawn from the developing countries.

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Carrying the baton to new regions

Summary

The continuing search for more efficient and effective ways of feeding a growing population has led to the concept of site-specific agriculture, which seeks to place crop inputs economically and accurately. At the heart of the technology that has been developed to put this concept into effect is the custom applicator, of which Ag-Chem Equipment Co. is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer. The company's commitment to helping farmers throughout the world achieve higher yields and profits while improving their stewardship of the land is examined in this profile.

Abstract

Since it was founded in 1963, the US company, Ag-Chem Equipment Co., has developed to become the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of custom application equipment used for applying nutrients and crop protection products. As the world turns increasingly towards more scientific-based ways of applying vital crop nutrients to feed a growing population, Ag-Che~ is in the vanguard ofdeveloping the appropriate equipment, which will bring concepts of site-specific agriculture within easier reach of farmers throughout the world. In addition to extending its range of products and support services, the company is committed to establishing a worldwide network of distributors and site-specific specialists.

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Meeting the nutrient challenge

Summary

Rice and oil palm play an essential role in Asian agricultural economies. Each crop has special nutrient requirements, as outlined in this review.

Abstract

Two very contrasting crops play an uppermost role in the agriculture of South East Asia - rice and oil palm. Rice is the staple food and the principal crop in Asia, accounting for between 30-50% of agricultural incomes, and it provides between 50-80% of the calories consumed by the population. Both rice and oil palm have special nutrient requirements. While rice and other cereals use the largest amount of fertilizer, they do not account for the highest application rates per hectare. Rice is estimated to use approximately 136 kg/ha globally, compared with 116 kg/ha for wheat, while oil palm requires an average 242 kg/ha offertilizer. The only crops with higher average fertilizer application rates throughout the world are potato, vegetables, citrus, sugar beet (254 kg/ha) and banana (479 kg/ha). (Source: Kim Soh, Fertilizer Use by Crop. Paper presented at IFA AgroEconomics Committee Meeting, Beijing, May 1997.) Table 1 examines the data more closely, showing average fertilizer application rates and yields for rice in the leading regions.

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Extending the frontiers

Summary

"Quality bulk handling and bagging wherever you need it" is the slogan of Nectar Shipping & Projects Ltd. While many factors can militate against the convenience and economic advantages of bagging at the destination, Nectar has made bagging at destination an affordable option for fertilizer shippers throughout the world, and the company's new Compac 140 mobile bagging machines are spearheading Nectars continued quest to ensure that the consignment paid for is the same as the cargo delivered.

Abstract

In many countries, extremes of temperature, adverse weather and a lack ofdischarge equipment can make any cargo shipment a challenge. While it is considerably more economical to ship products such as fertilizers in bulk, inadequate discharging infrastructure at the destination port has traditionally compelled shippers to ship the product prebagged, at considerably higher cost to the purchaser. Nectar Shipping and Projects Ltd. has sought to bring the advantages of bulk shipments closer to the point of delivery by developing mobile bagging equipment and services which can be operated in more or less any environment, including quayside, at the port of destination.

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Lift-off at Bahia Blanca

Summary

Krupp Fordertechnik specialises in the provision of handling, storage and conveying equipment. The German company has recently been awarded the contract to supply the Profertil complex at Bahia Blanca. It is a tough assignment, but well within the company's capabilities...

Abstract

The Profetti! project in Argentina is making rapid strides, and when the new 1.2 million tla urea complex comes on stream in Bahia Blanca in mid-2000, it will be the largest single-train urea plant, not only in the Mercosur region, but also in the world. The complex is located some 600 km south of Buenos Aires, from where it will meet a rapidly rising demand for urea throughout the Mercosur region.

The Profertil project represents a partnership between the Argentinean oil and gas company, YPF S.A., and Agrium Inc. The latter company is a leader in the production, distribution and marketing offertilizers in North America, and is closely involved in the Argentinean fertilizer sector, having developed a pioneering network of local retail distribution centres throughout the country.

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A clean bill of health guaranteed

Summary

The German company, Lurgi Metallurgie GmbH, has developed sulphuric acid plants which offer state-of-the-art technology for the maximum recovery of sulphur and energy, smelter gas handling, tail gas cleaning, by-product treatment and reprocessing technology. Its latest development is a patented Heat Recovery System, as described here.

Abstract

The development of four new smelter projects in Australia has put a renewed spotlight on sulphuric acid technology. The largest of these projects is the 1.2 million tla sulphuric acid plant whichWMC Fertilizer (WMCF) is building alongside the Mt. Isa copper smelter in Queensland, and which is due to come on stream later this year. Ofthis total, abour 800,000 tla will be produced via the smelter off-gas sulphur dioxide gas stream. The gas collection system is scheduled to be commissioned in]uly 1999, and the acid plant is expected to reach full production by the beginning of 2000.

A major criterion in the latest generation of sulphuric acid plants is to minimise energy costs. Equally important are the curtailment of emissions and the maintenance of the strictest standards of environmental safety.WMCF has already achieved its emission targets for CO2 and S02 ahead of schedule, and further targets will be developed this year to enhance environmental performance still further.

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