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Publication > Issue > Articles

Norman Borlaug's legacy for humanity

Summary

The fertilizer industry throughout the world was saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Norman Borlaug at the age of 95. His was a life of unique achievement for he is credited with ensuring the lives of billions of people via his work on transforming agricultural yields.

Abstract

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug died at the age of 95 on 12 September 2009. An agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel laureate who was acclaimed as the “Father of the Green Revolution”, Dr. Borlaug’s Curriculum Vitae was unique. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize which he was awarded in 1970, Dr. Borlaug had gained innumerable awards and accolades, including the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, India’s Padma Vishubhan civilian honour, innumerable academic, scientific and achievement awards from around the world, government and civic awards, and honorary degrees and doctorates.

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The challenges for India's fertilizer manufacturers

Summary

Dr. M. P. Sukumaran Nair is a regular contributor to Fertilizer International. In his latest assessment of the Indian fertilizer outlook, he outlines the many challenges facing the country's fertilizer industry as it tries to meet the targets of the 11th Five Year Plan.

Abstract

During the 10th Five Year Plan (2002-07), while India’s national economy grew by 7-8%/year, agricultural growth fell to as low as 1.4%/year. Annual per capita production of cereals and pulses also levelled off, raising a threat to food security at the national level. According to 11th plan approach paper, in order to sustain an average economic growth of 10%, agriculture was expected to grow at 4%, which by current assessments appears unfeasible. This suggests the need for massive spending in the agriculture sector in various farm-related projects.

Application of mineral fertilizers is essential to modern agriculture to boost productivity. Therefore the fertilizer sector has also to grow to meet the growing demand from the agriculture sector. The performance of the Indian fertilizer industry has been negatively impacted by a number of factors, which have been exacerbated with the onset of the global financial crisis. Meanwhile, worldwide prescriptions for the revival of national economies have embarked upon massive public spending. In India, agriculture spending along with infrastructure development is being targeted as the prime avenue for expenditure to combat the economic disorder.

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Fertilizers key to Iraqi economic recovery

Summary

Despite the worst effects of war and civil strife, Iraq has managed to sustain the continued production of fertilizers, albeit on a limited scale in run-down and investment-starved plants. The industry has been identified as a key determinant in the reconstruction of the country's economy. We assess the foundations on which this revival can be built.

Abstract

Had not Iraq suffered nearly thirty years of war, economic sanctions and internal turmoil, the country would surely have been a Middle Eastern economic powerhouse. The opportunity cost of this tragic period in Iraq’s history is virtually incalculable: quite apart from the lives lost since 1980, when Iraq entered into an eight-year war with Iran, one study has estimated that Iraq’s GDP of $113.9 billion could have been more than 50 times greater had the country remained at peace between 1980 and the Gulf War of 1991. Had Iraq avoided the various conflicts between 1980 and 2005, GDP per capita would have been four times greater than the estimated $4,000 per head in 2008.

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South Asia's hesitant progress on the road to food security

Summary

In Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, recent advances in fertilizer consumption were checked last year by the global escalation in fertilizer prices. Forecasts suggest a slow recovery.

Abstract

In terms of fertilizer consumption, India predominates among the countries that comprise the South Asia region, accounting for nearly 80% of the total in 2007/08, followed by Pakistan (13%), Bangladesh (7%), Sri Lanka (1%) and Nepal (0.2%). (Table 1)

Pakistan and Bangladesh have major investments in fertilizer production while Sri Lanka and Nepal depend on imports for their entire fertilizer requirements. Agriculture remains the backbone of each country’s economy. In Pakistan, it employs over 40% of the population and generates around 20% of the GDP. The sector is only slowly being modernised. Fertilizer consumption had been growing steadily in the country until 2005/06 but has subsequently declined, partly due to the escalation in prices that peaked in 2008. Total fertilizer consumption in 2007/08 was 3.58 million tonnes nutrient, 2.5% less than in 2006/07. (Table 2) (Review of the Fertilizer Situation in South Asia 2007/08, Lt. Gen. Munir Hafiez, Fauji Fertilizer Co. Ltd. Paper presented at IFA Council Meeting [November 2008].)

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Sulphur in Asia: New recognition new opportunities

Summary

Sulphur deficiency in the soil is a global phenomenon that threatens to limit the continued increase in food production. The problem is most pronounced in Asia. How can the speciality fertilizer producers best meet the region's sulphur nutrient needs?

Abstract

Sulphur was for long neglected as a fertilizer nutrient in agricultural production in Asia, but in China and India at least, sulphur is now acknowledged as a major plant nutrient in its own right, along with N, P and K. This recognition is timely as S deficiency in China, India and Asia’s other leading agricultural nations has become more critical, to the extent that it is limiting crop yield, produce quality, nutrient use efficiency and returns. In China, for example, an estimated 30% of cropped soils were reported to be deficient in sulphur, equivalent to about 40 million ha. Sulphur fertilisation was observed to increase crop yields by between 7-15%. (Fertilizer Use and the Promotion of Sulphur in Chinese Agriculture, Gao Xiangzhao. Paper presented at The Sulphur Institute’s Sulphur World Symposium, Madrid [March 2009].)

The Sulphur Institute (TSI) is spurring the greater recognition of the so-called Fourth Major Plant Nutrient. In China, TSI has partnered the Ministry of Agriculture and China National Agricultural Technology Service Centre (CNTAESC) in a programme to increase the awareness of the importance of sulphur fertilizer in the country’s agriculture.

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Yargus expands as sales double

Summary

Yargus Manufacturing of Marshall, Illinois was founded in 1968 and has gained a reputation at home and internationally for its innovative and high-quality blending and conveying equipment. It has also developed expertise for turnkey projects, supplying all the in-loading, in-plant and out-loading equipment, custom-designed for each application. The company operates from a 5-acre complex but a full order book has prompted Yargus to expand its facilities, as outlined here.

Abstract

The well-known producer of the Layco line of fertilizer blending and materials handling equipment, Yargus Manufacturing Inc., is enjoying a healthy order book. This has prompted the company to announce the expansion of its production facility at Marshall, Illinois. The work has provided Yargus with an additional 22,425 ft2 of space at its plant, as well as 3,000 ft2 of extra office space. The expansion of the plant facilities includes a loading dock within the building, a new parts shop, additional and larger cranes and a higher ceiling capacity.

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Defoamers, flocculants and more for better phosphoric acid plants

Summary

A look at the range of additives that have been tailored to tackle various operating issues at phosphoric acid plants throughout the world.

Abstract

As every phosphoric acid plant manager knows, the plant’s performance is affected by the properties of the phosphate ores that are used. The properties that most strongly affect plant performance are:

  • Physio-chemical characteristics
  • Ease of grinding
  • Sulphuric acid consumption and heat load
  • Physical quality and reactivity
  • Presence of impurities.

These factors must be offset against the plant manager’s goals, which are to achieve full plant design capacity or more, obtaining 29-32% P2O5 content of filter acid and a P2O5 recovery of about 95-97%. (Effect of Inorganic Modifiers on Phosphoric Acid Dihydrate Slurry Filtration at High Reaction Temperature, Karim Halaseh, JPMC, Jordan. Paper presented at IFA Technical Symposium, Sao Paulo [March 2008].)

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Tackling fluorine in phosphoric acid plants

Summary

A look at two alternative technologies

Abstract

All types of phosphate processed in industry contain fluorine. The content varies from 1.5% to 4.4% F. These fluorine compounds are emitted at various stages, among others in the cooling and evaporation section of wet process phosphoric acid (WPA) manufacture. (Tackling Fluorine in Phosphoric Acid Plants, Benoît Van Massenhove and Marc Collin, Prayon Technologies. Paper presented at ITA Technical Conference, São Paulo [March 2008].) Fluorine is a by-product that may be commercialised but it is also a polluting element of the atmosphere and the residual waters.

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Enhancing global potash consumption

Summary

Programmes to educate growers around the world to harness the K nutrient, focusing in particular on the International Potash Institute (IPI) and SOPIB.

Abstract

As this issue of Fertilizer International is being distributed to readers throughout the world, an important event is being staged in Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT), Bhubaneshwar, India. This meeting is entitled Potassium Role and Benefits in Improving Nutrient Management for Food Production and Reduced Environmental Damages. In addition to Orissa University of Agriculture, the meeting is being co-sponsored by the International Potash Institute (IPI) and the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) – the two leading organisations that are committed to teaching farmers around the world the value of the potassium nutrient via the promotion of balanced nutrition programmes. It is the third such event that IPI has organised in India.

The meeting is well timed, as progress in countries’ continuing efforts to achieve security in the availability of food has reached a critical juncture. The advances made in the first wave of the Green Revolution have been largely achieved via the introduction of high-yielding cereal strains and the adoption of basic levels of fertilisation. However, as the world population continues to grow but less land is available for cultivation, there is a considerable onus for farmers around the world to continue to increase their productivity by achieving ever higher yields. The world population is also becoming more prosperous over time, and this is reflected in changing diets. Thus, there is a steady trend towards higher demand for protein-based food, together with increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as oil, all of which require different fertilisation regimes compared with cereals. Nevertheless, significant pockets of undernourishment remain, estimated by FAO to comprise 1.02 billion people.

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LDS offers a rock analysis breakthrough

Summary

At last, the technology is now available to enable a phosphate (or potash) mining engineer to ascertain the quality of the ore while it is actually being mined.

Abstract

In the mining industry, prompt analysis of the material being extracted is essential, especially as the ore may contain elements that could prove harmful in the subsequent processing stages. Traditional practices do not allow for an im­mediate analysis, however, but in­stead involve the stockpiling of pebble products until quality control sampling can be undertaken. Alternatively, material may be transported for processing or otherwise rejected solely on the basis of visual observations of the ore. Each method is an unreliable method of quality control and a potential cause of delay that risks leading to the delivery of sub-standard products or the disqualification of good ore material.

This problem is particularly marked in the phosphate sector, where there can be marked variations in the mineral content within small sections of the ore body. Within the phosphate rock mining industry, one of the most problematic and potentially harmful of materials is dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2). Dolomite causes higher consumption of sulphuric acid, reduces filtration capacity and lowers the P2O5 recovery in the downstream phosphoric acid and fertilizer manufacturing processes.

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