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Publication > Issue > Articles

Hope in Panama City

Summary

British Sulphur Events' Fertilizer Latino Americano Conference set off the 2009 calendar of international forums on a bright note, and after the shocks which world markets endured last year, participants could see some cause for renewed optimism.

Abstract

Fertilizer Latin America is the first major event in the annual industry calendar and it is also the focal point for the start of the South American fertilizer season. The programme of presentations is therefore significant, as it can set the tone for the industry outlook for the year ahead.

After the customary welcome from John French, British Sulphur Events’ Conference Director – attending his final Latin American conference before his retirement – Luc Maene, Director General of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) addressed one of the most important issues of today, Feeding the World: A Challenge for our Changing Times. He provided a broad brushstroke picture of the issues facing global fertilizer markets in the context of a rising and increasingly urbanised global population, in which the rapidly expanding middle classes are now demanding more diverse food.

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A colourful 35-year career, a colourful man

Summary

One of the fertilizer sector's best-known and larger-than-life personalities is about to retire after a 35-year career in the business: at the end of February, when John French steps down as Conference Director of British Sulphur Events after the Nitrogen+Syngas 2009 Conference in Rome, he will be able to reflect on a unique career that has earned him many friends throughout the world.

Abstract

One of the fertilizer sector’s best-known and larger-than-life personalities is about to retire after a 35-year career in the business: at the end of February, when John French steps down as Conference Director of British Sulphur Events after the Nitrogen+Syngas 2009 Conference in Rome, he will be able to reflect on a unique career that has earned him many friends throughout the world.

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Ocean freights: is scrapping the only salvation?

Summary

Dry bulk freight markets have been pulled along by China and its appetite for steel, but just as a substantial number of new vessel orders were about to enter the market, freight rates collapsed, and signs of an upturn have been elusive. What are the implications for fertilizer shippers?

Abstract

Shipowners and charterers were surely unanimous in saying Good Riddance to 2008, but they have little cause to welcome the New Year so far. With dry bulk freight markets beginning 2009 at a fraction of the levels seen 12 months ago, owners and charterers now ask if rates can lose any further ground. Yet had this review been published six months ago, the question would have been “How high can rates get?”

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Can organic fertilizers restore the balance?

Summary

Organic fertilizers have long been branded as high-cost, low nutrient-value products, so do they really have a place in modern agriculture? Des Owen takes a look at the role organics can play in providing a balanced nutrient supply, and discusses how they can be cost effective and assist in improving agricultural productivity.

Abstract

In September 2008 Nitrogen+Syngas magazine reported that, in light of soaring fertilizer prices, some farmers in parts of the United States were considering manure as an alternative to liquid nitrogen fertilizers. “Due to the dramatic increases in the price of manufactured fertilizers in the past few years, manure has become a more economically viable option for crop producers that have historically used manufactured fertilizers,” Ben Weinheimer, vice president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association explained.

Manure and other organic fertilizers can offer a number of benefits to farmers, such as increasing soil organic matter, as well as improving soil structure, water holding capacity and availability of micronutrients. From 1981 to 2002 the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania conducted long-term trials comparing the performance of organic and manufactured fertilizers on yields of corn and soybean crops. The results of the study suggested that overall yields from organic systems were 30% higher for corn and 50%-100% higher for soybeans when compared to systems using conventional mineral fertilizers alone.1 Organic systems also showed to have higher drought resistance than non-organic systems, with water capture being up to 100%, and they were also found to have improved soil structure and organic content.

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Crop production in the 21st century

Summary

An important biennial event in the world fertilizer calendar is the Dahlia Greidinger International Symposium. Organised and supported by The Dahlia Greidinger Memorial Fund and BARD (the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund), the 2009 Symposium will be held between 2-5 March at Technion-IIT, Haifa, Israel. The theme this year is Crop Production in the 21st Century: Global Climate Change, Environmental Risks and Water Security.

Abstract

Spread over four days, the objective of the symposium is to re-examine research and development directions, needs and knowledge gaps, and identify possible modes for coping with the increasing severity of water scarcity, reduced water quality, soil degradation, and their effects on food security. On 6 March, delegates may also participate in a professional tour, which will demonstrate the advances that Israeli scientists have made in the treatment of brackish water and wastewater, as well as advanced fertigation systems.

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How will markets absorb the surge in new capacity?

Summary

A surge in the demand for UAN has encouraged the leading producers to invest in new capacity. This inevitably raises questions about how the new supply can be absorbed. Oliver Hatfield, Director of Integer Research, examines the implications.

Abstract

Major changes are taking place in the market for UAN (urea ammonium nitrate) solutions, the main liquid fertilizer used by farmers worldwide. Following a period of slow growth up to 2005, producers have begun to expand – a process which will culminate with over 2 million tonnes of new production hitting the market in 2009-10. Several of the new plants are in low-cost locations and pose a threat to more established producers, notably in Europe.

Integer Research has prepared a major new study on the UAN market, analysing trade-flows and the competitive position of the leading producers and new entrants. It explores how this market is likely to develop in the medium term, and forecasts UAN prices. This article draws on the findings of the study.

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Zinc: A key micronutrient

Summary

Zinc is a key ingredient in human nutrition, soil and crop management and is being identified as an increasingly frequent limiting factor. This review evaluates the range of products that can counter this threat to crop yields.

Abstract

As a vital micronutrient, zinc (Zn) is a natural element that is essential for normal healthy growth and reproduction of plants, animals and humans. It appears in the soil at a typical ratio of 25- 200 mg Zn/kg DW, in the air at between 40- 100 ng Zn/m3, in water at between 3-40 μg Zn/l and biomass (25-200 μg Zn/g DW).

In plants, Zn is critical for many physiological functions, including the maintenance of structural and functional integrity of biological membranes and the facilitation of protein synthesis. Of all micronutrients, Zn is required by the largest number of enzymes and proteins. The zinc pathways have important roles in:

  • Photosynthesis and sugar formation
  • Protein synthesis
  • Fertility and seed production
  • Growth regulation
  • Defence against disease.

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IMPHOS paints a global canvas

Summary

Institute Mondial du Phosphate (IMPHOS) the World Phosphate Institute promotes the worldwide development of phosphate use in ways that are technically sound, economically advantageous and environmentally responsible. We review the Institute's main activities, including agricultural and technical programmes that form the core of the IMPHOS mission.

Abstract

Based in Casablanca, Morocco, IMPHOS was founded in 1973 as a scientific, not-for-profit, non-commercial and non-governmental institute. Its primary mandate is to collect and disseminate scientific data to support the rational use of phosphates, to increase and sustain agricultural production, and to meet the food requirements of mankind throughout the world. Among its objectives, IMPHOS seeks to promote – in both the developed and developing countries – the efficient use of phosphates, in accordance with the principles of integrated plant nutrient management. IMPHOS also seeks to encourage improved farming techniques for more efficient and sustainable crop production, while minimising environmental impacts. Interacting with the international scientific community, IMPHOS undertakes technical research, including programmes on the synthesis of P compounds and processing technologies.

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Getting more from your potash refinery

Summary

Refining the ore to remove the potash from the salt is the most critical part of the potash production process. We review the efforts made by the leading producers worldwide to enhance the efficiency of their refineries.

Abstract

Potash processing comprises an extraction phase and a milling or refining phase. Most potash is extracted by conventional underground mining or solution mining methods. Once the potash ore is extracted from the ground, the material is further processed to separate the KCl component from the ore and process the potash for sale. (Global Potash Supply, CIBC World Markets [August 2008].) Fig. 1 shows the potash process flow.

Four primary beneficiation techniques are typically employed:

  • Flotation
  • Thermal dissolution-crystallisation (hot leaching)
  • Electrostatic separation
  • Heavy media separation.

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Enhancing integration at phosphoric acid plants

Summary

Integrated water management is the goal of every phosphoric acid plant manager, for it is fundamental to the demands of sustainability and efficiency. The latest developments in enhanced water management, including technologies designed to reduce a plant's consumption as well as enhanced recycling technology, are examined here, together with several recent case studies.

Abstract

Wet process phosphoric acid plants (WPA) have a significant requirement for water, which is used for scrubbing acid fumes and filtering, and for the washing and disposal of by-product phosphogypsum. In addition to consuming water in the production process, plants discharge wastewater. This factor has prompted phosphoric acid producers to seek an integrated approach to water conservation to bring down their water requirements and to identify areas where the wastewater generated could be reused with minimum treatment, for example by incorporating modifications to the plant design to reduce the water requirement and generation of waste water, and the tapping of water from alternative sources.

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