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Extending the family

Summary

The Hamburg-based software company, Burmester & Vogel, has developed a family of programs, which it markets under The Shipping System brand-name. The proverbial jewel in the crown is the Laytime Calculation. This program transforms the tedious chore of calculating shipping laytime into a simple task of pressing a few buttons on the computer keyboard, which has gained it many friends among fertilizer shippers. Here, we review what B &V's Shipping System programs can offer the hard-pressed shipper.

Abstract

In the November/December 1995 issue of Fertilizer International (No. 349, Pp. 20-21), we described the software package which the German company, Burmester & Vogel (B & V), had designed for use by fertilizer shippers. B& V's Laytime Calculation program was specifically designed to make the laborious task of calculating shipping laytime into a simple matter ofmaking a few keystrokes on the computer. This new program answered many a shipping executive's prayer, for laytime calculation is one of the most laborious and timeconsuming chores which a shipper must face. The old methods of calculating laytime also incur the risk of making errors, which can be expensive to rectifY.

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Precision agriculture - the jury is out

Summary

The biennial AFCOME Bulk Blending meeting plays an exceptionally valuable part in the international fertilizer industry calendar, as it provides a forum in which some of the most pressing long-term issues can be analysed and debated. The formal sessions are distinguished by exceptionally Uvely discussions, and contentious matters and controversy are not shunned. The following review looks at three of the most pertinent papers presented at the most recent AFCOME meeting, which was convened in the historic French town of Beaune between 6-7 November 1997.

Abstract

Peter Dampney, Senior Consultant at ADAS Boxworth, Cambridge, assessed the current status of precision agriculture in the UK, focusing on the results of recent research and advice given to farmers. Although precision agriculture is not inherently new, as soils have long been tested in situ for soil pH and lime applied to acid patches within individual fields, new equipment and technologies have been made available to farmers, thus putting the concept into the forefront. However, Peter Dampney expressed the view that while many fields do vary in terms of the natural soil resource and crop performance, at present much of the technology available is ahead of the agronomic understanding, economic assessment and reliable methods of practical application.

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A choice of thoroughbreds

Summary

Potassium is a vital nutrient, essential for the photosynthesis, transport and storage of assimilates, protein formation, N fixation and the water household. K increases the tolerance to saline and calcareous soil conditions and reduces susceptibility to pests and diseases. The most commonly available source of fertilizer K is potassium chloride, but in certain conditions, it is not always the most appropriate fertilizer to use. This article examines the alternatives to KCI, and the merits of the increasingly wide choice of speciality potash fertilizers available in the marketplace.

Abstract

Potassium chloride is the most commonly available source of nutrient K, but in certain circumstances, it is not the most suitable source, and growers may be obliged to choose a chloride-free fertilizer. Many permanent crops are sensitive to chloride, and if the crop's chloride tolerance exceeds overall salinity, this will compound the effect of chloride toxicity to cause a reduction in yields. The use of chloride fertilizers in certain cases can restrict the flow of sugars, starches and organic acids to bulbs, tubers, fruits and storage organs. In place of soluble solids, water will accumulate, thus inhibiting plant growth and quality.

High salt fertilizers can have an adverse effect on crop growth, leading to poor germination, seedling injury, leaf burn, nutritional disturbances, reduced root and shoot growth, and total desiccation. While such established crops as asparagus, cotton, date palm and spinach have a high salt tolerance, and barley, cabbage, grapes, melons, peppers and wheat have a moderate tolerance, many other crops have only a slight tolerance. These include alfalfa, apples, corn, lettuce, potatoes and tomatoes. In the lawn sector, excessive salts and high chlorides can lead to turf burn and other evidence of injury.

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Predictable nutrition

Summary

Controlled-release fertilizers have established a niche in several highly-specialised market sectors. They carry-a premium price, but nevertheless can earn a good return as a result of the lower application rates and nitrogen inputs which they require. The special attributes of controlled-release fertilizers and what is available on the market are examined here.

Abstract

For maximum crop yields, farmers turn firstly to nitrogen. This is, however, the most difficult nutrient to manage - mainly as a result of the high volatility ofthe most commonlyused inorganic fertilizers, especially urea and urea-containing products. These can lose up to 30% or more of their nitrogen if not incorporated by rainfall or tillage within 72 hours. In order to enhance N efficiency, farmers have sought residuemanagement techniques involving fertilizers which release their nutrients in a more measured way than traditional N-based products.

Various techniques are available. Slow release fertilizers (such as ureaformaldehyde and sulphur-coated urea) offer prolonged nutrient release. Their release rate is affected by several factors, including soil temperature, soil pH and soil water content. The release is not always predictable - a factor which controlled release fertilizers seek to address. The predictability ofthe release rate is the distinguishing feature between the two types of fertilizers.

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A winning formula

Summary

The advantages of granular urea over prilled material are increasingly clear-cut. Several alternative processes are available for the production of granular urea, and these are reviewed in this article.

Abstract

The prilling process continues to account for the majority of urea produced throughout the world, but it is increasingly obsolete, as it involves a relatively high degree of air pollution, in the form of urea dust and ammonia gas, while the product itself leaves much to be desired. Low hardness, small size and a tendency to cake are three characteristics ofprilled urea. Several companies have developed alternative technologies for the manufacture of urea, using the granulation roure. Harder and larger granules are easier to store and ship, and they are less prone to segregation, thus making granular urea the preferred choice ofbulk blenders. Since the traditional urea prilling tower is unsuitable for the production of large-sized urea granules, as it requires a very tall tower, granulation is usually used for producing large urea granules.

Granulation processes have also sought to tackle problems arising from pollution during the manufacturing process. NorskHydro and its antecedents offer two granulation processes: pan granulation and the fluid bed technology developed by its Dutch subsidiary, formerly NSM. Another company that was subsequentlyabsorbed by Hydro - theUK Fisons company - developed the drum granulation process, while the more recent acquisition of Enichem brought the Italian company's falling curtains drum granulation technology into the fold. The Enichem urea plant at Ferrara employs this technology, and its economy of operation has played a major role in ensuring the profitability of the Enichem division to the new Norwegian owners. The Italian company, Snamprogetti, developed the falling curtains drum granulation process, which it has developed to a high degree of efficiency.

Other companies offering urea granulation technology are T oyo Engineering Co. (TEC), Japan and KaltenbachThuring, France. TEe's process is known as spouted bed granulation, while K-T markets fluid drum granulation technology.

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