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Wait and see!

Summary

Nitrogen is a cause for concern, but phosphates and potash look good. That is the North American fertilizer industry's broad consensus for the year ahead, and for no\y' Wall Street is happy to concur. This article reviews some of the recent prognoses made for the region's prospects in 1997/98. They are broadly encouraging ...

Abstract

The Southwestern Fertilizer Conference provides the opportunity for a mid-term assessment of market prospects. This year's meeting was held in New Orleans, and the torrid atmosphere out in the streets of the Crescent City matched the mood of delegates, who would have welcomed any sign of relief in the depressed nitrogen markets. Their hopes were raised in the run-up to the meeting, as prices of most fertilizer products stabilised, but speakers at the Conference offered only limited hope that matters would indeed improve.

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Extra muscle-power

Summary

Based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC), offers a unique range of engineering, agronomic, training and R&D services foragri-business managers, which are intended to enable them to advance the ability of agriculture to feed a rapidly-growing population. This article describes what is on offer.

Abstract

The world population is expected to reach about 9 billion people within a few decades. It is estimated that a threefold increase in farm output will be required to feed this population. This level ofoutput can be achieved either by tripling the output of existing agricultural land, or by turning millions of hectares offorests and wetlands into farmland. Obviously, the only reasonable solution is to increase the productivity of existing farmland by investing more in agricultural research, technology development, and application of known technologies. The need for continued agricultural research and technology development results from:

  • Changes in the quality and availability of variable raw materials.
  • The need for process modifications, changes, and improvements.
  • Demands for improved quality as a result of distribution and use problems.
  • Demands for different/new products as a result of environmental concerns and/or crop requirements.
  • Changes in packaging technology, methodsofapplication (precision agriculture), economic considerations, and policies.

 

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The winning combination

Summary

From its strategic location on the Columbia River, Washington, the us· Port of Longview handles over I million tla of dry bulk products. Fertilizers account for a major share of this total, and the port owes its success to the partnership with International Raw Materials (IRM). The dynamics of this winning combination are examined in this review.

Abstract

In 1996, the US Port of Longview, Washington state, celebrated its 75th anniversary. Whatstarted out in 1921 as a 1,000 ftwooden dock along the banks of the Columbia River in the US Pacific Northwest has become the most modern, dependable and unique facilities among international bulk handling terminals. Located on a stretch of water 40 ft deep and situated just 66 miles from the mouth of the Columbia River, the Port of Longview offers seven vessel berths, more than 2 million ft2 of open storage, and 1 million ft2 of covered storage. All cargoes are treated in an efficient and environmentally- sensitive manner. These include a wide variety of dry bulk commodities, and the Port of Longview handles more than 1 million tfa of dry bulk products.

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Continuing advances

Summary

The spotlight has again fallen strongly on the provision of state-of-the-art bulk handling equipment for fertilizers and raw materials. This article reviews recent developments among the key players.

Abstract

T he recent inauguration of the Canpotex/Hall-Buck Marine potash and bulk commodities' handling terminal in Portland, Oregon, together with the investment in improved facilities at the leading Chinese and Indian ports, as well as in Latin America, have created an encouraging climate for investment in enhanced bulk handling facilities. Such investments enable fertilizer shippers to increase their efficiency through faster loading and discharge times. Other issues have also prompted new investment, including the growing requirements ofport authorities throughout the world for improved standards of dust control. Fertilizer buyers are also increasingly exacting in their requirements for top-quality product, which has not suffered contamination or losses en route from the factory to the warehouse. Improved economies of scale are sought at each stage in the distribution chain, and nearly all fertilizer is now shipped in bulk, with bagging arranged at the port of discharge.

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Clear solutions

Summary

In North America and other developed regionsl micronutrients have gained widespread acceptancel as growers acknowledge their importance to ensure balanced nutrition and maximum economic yields. Buyers are faced with a wide choice of micronutrientproductsl but not all are equally effective.

Abstract

T he need for micronutrients is now almost universally acknowledged, and there is encouraging evidence that the message is being noted by growers. Certainly, there is a plethora of reliable, substantiated data which emphasises the need for micronutrients in a balanced fertility programme. The past few years have seen an increase in the production and sale of sulphated micronutrients - especially zinc. Also driving the sulphate market is the increasing demand for soluble micronutrients for use in starter fertilizers, and demand for these products is increasing in North America in direct line with the rise in no-till acres.

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Quality assured

Summary

China's requirement for imported fertilizers has made it increasingly aware of the need to secure the services of the cargo inspection specialists. In this profile, special correspondent David Hayes shows how one such company, Inspectorate (Far fast) Ltd., provides Chinese fertilizer buyers the assurance of guaranteed product quality.

Abstract

Over the past decade, China's growing need for imported fertilizer has been accompanied by the increased use of international third-party cargo inspection services. As each fertilizer shipment needs to be inspected by independent inspectors at both its point oforigin and port of destination, the number of fertilizer cargo inspections carried out in China has been rising each year as government plans to boost agricultural output rely increasingly on the use of imported fertilizers. One company which has experienced a strong increase in demand for its inspection services by China's fertilizer importers during the past few years is Inspectorate (Far East) Ltd., a division of Swiss-based Inspectorate Suisse. The company has run an office in Hong Kong, serving both Hong Kong and China, since 1984.

Originally established to inspect consumer goods such as textiles, garments and electronic goods made in Hong Kong for export worldwide, Inspectorate later added services for inspecting fertilizer and other materials as China began to open itself to the international market during the 1980s. In Asia, Inspectorate operates its own offices in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. In addition, the company has local affiliates in Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea.

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Advancing the case

Summary

In March this year, production of the first sulphur bentonite pastilles began at the NEAISIJ&S Technical Services plant in Saudi Arabia. This plant was designed in its entirety by Sandvik Process Systems, and represents an important advance in increasing the availability of sulphur for agriculture.

Abstract

Global demand for sulphur bentonite for agricultural use has grown rapidly in recent years, as farmers seek to replace the sulphur that was previously deposited as a "free" nutrient from the atmosphere. While finelygraded elemental sulphur has been used as a source ofsulphur, this material is very difficult to handle and cannot be blended with other fertilizers. For a plant to utilise the S nutrient, it must be converted to the sulphate form. Although coarse elemental sulphur would mix better with other fertilizers, the large particles are slow to convert to sulphate, and these forms ofelemental sulphur is not an ideal agronomic choice. In both cases, furthermore, the sulphur dust is a potential hazard.

One solution to these problems has been to combine elemental sulphur with bentonite. This high-analysis pastille fertilizer product has also gained wide acceptance in North America, Australasia and Latin America, and it blends well with other granular products, is easy to store and handles well. Compatibility with other granular fertilizer products - such as urea, MAP and potash - is particularly important, as retailers and growers turn to higher-analysis products. Sulphur bentonite is also virtually dust-free, and thus no special measures are necessary during handling, loading or discharge.

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Making a virture out of necessity

Summary

Ammonium sulphate has long been recognised as a nitrogen- and sulphate-containing fertilizer (21-0-0+24S).lts use has been encouraged by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), with funding from the Fertilizer Industry Advisory Committee (FlAC), which initiated the project, Increased Yields through Balanced Fertilizer Use Avoiding Sulphur Deficiencies. Meanwhile, soil acidification is one of the most serious global problems associated with air pollution. This paper by Ryunosuke Kikuchi (I) and Shinji Aoki (2) shows how air pollutants,such as sulphur oxides (SOx) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), can be transformed into ammonium sulphate by electron beam processing. This technology meets the criteria set out by the FAO, while recycling resources.

Abstract

Sulphur, along with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, is one of the major plant food nutrients needed for crop production. Sulphur deficiency in plants is more widespread than generally recognised, but it is not always easy to identifY and is often misdiagnosed as nitrogen deficiency. Ammonium sulphate (AS) contains two important nutrients and commands a higher price than straight N fertilizers, but when the agronomic benefits of AS are considered, its price may be regarded as competitive with single-nutrient fertilizers. AS is stable chemically and physically, as it is crystalline in the solid form, and its quality is constant. Furthermore, AS can be applied directly as a nitrogen and sulphur soutce; it can be used as an ingredient in a compound fertilizer; and it can be blended with other fertilizer materials. As far as nutrient leaching is concerned, AS offers a clear advantage over other N fertilizers, as the nitrogen in ammonium sulphate is in the form of ammonium, which greatly reduces the risk of leaching. There is also less volatilisation from AS compared with urea-based fertilizers.

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