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In focus for the future

Summary

The world fertilizer industry has seen few years to match 1996 in terms of dynamic change, and IMC Global Inc. has been in the forefront of developments. It has for long enjoyed supremacy in North American markets as the leading low-cost producer of phosphate and potash fertilizers, and has consolidated its position in downstream and added-value markets following the merger with The Vigoro Corp. earlier this year. Rather than rest on its laurels, IMC Global also took the opportunity to recast its business units to achieve ambitious cost savings and develop downstream and added-value business. Wendell Bueche, Chairman and Chief Executive, explains what makes IMC Global run.

Abstract

When the people at IMC Global talk about the future of the crop nutrient business, they speak of growth and opportunity. Their vision also includes the realisation that operating in the global market requires change ... and certainly, the word "change" describes accurately what the company has experienced in 1996. In March, IMC Global completed its merger with The Vigoro Corporation, creating a $3 billion company. The new company is one of the world's leading low-cost producers and marketers of phosphate and potash crop nutrients, a major player in North American retail markets, and a global leader in the animal feed ingredient industry.

The second change at IMC Global involves a just-completed major reorganisation which has led to the creation of five decentralised business units. Each of these businesses is now responsible for its own destiny. In addition, changes were made at the corporate staff level to support these five operating units. Emerging from these changes is a company with an entirely new look and a sharper focus for the future.

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Guaranteeing farmers a free flow

Summary

Fertilizers are highly susceptible to ambient conditions, in storage, transport or on the farm, and caking, dusting. lumping and stickiness due to moisture can be the consequences of these conditions. Efficient bulk handling and modern spreaders require fertilizers with good free-flowing qualities, whatever the weather or climate. Caked material is harder to handle, and takes longer to load and unload. The granulate must be broken up and re-sieved, resulting in product loss and the generation of fines, creating a health hazard for operators. This review describes the efforts of several companies to ensure that fertilizers remain in perfect condition, from factory to farm.

Abstract

Fertilizers are increasingly traded over long distances before being distributed to users, and while in the production and distribution chain, their quality can deteriorate markedly. Although liquid and suspension fertilizers are commanding an increasing share of the overall market, most fertilizer products continue to be delivered to the farm in solid form. Solid fertilizers can be manufactured in granulated, prilled or compacted form, and producers have devoted considerable efforts to ensure optimum product quality at the manufacturing level. Better production methods have been devised to avoid agglomeration in the granulator, and have embraced better control of the prilling device.

However, solid fertilizers have intrinsically poor storage qualities. Because most fertilizer materials are water soluble (to ensure that they quickly find their way into the soil solution and thus to the roots of the plant), they can pick up moisture during storage and transportation ifambient temperatures are not controlled, becoming wet and sticky, leading ultimately to degradation.

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Fast track for yields and qualities

Summary

Micro- and secondary nutrients supplement the primary nutrients by providing vital nutrition that ensures a plant's healthy growth by increasing its resistance to disease, and by enhancing the efficiency of the plant's uptake of N, P and K. The addition of micronutrients also brings immediate dividends in terms of higher yields and better quality. This article reviews recent developments around the world in these speciality products.

Abstract

Multifert Agencies is a leading supplier of speciality fertilizers to the Australian fertilizer market, especially in horticulture. The company handles the entire range of fertilizers produced by Haifa Chemicals Ltd. in Australia, with the main products being MUL TJ-K potassium nitrate, the Polyfeed range of soluble NPKs, technical grade MAP and MKP magnesium potassium phosphate, as well as the Magnisal range of speciality fertilizers.

The Australian agricultural scene has been transformed by the expansion in micro-irrigation, whether it is drip or under-tree sprinklers, which now covers much of the relevant cultivated area. For several years, the area devoted to drip irrigation alone has been increasing by around 40-450/0/year, and this trend towards micro-irrigation has been accelerated as a result of chronic water shortages and environment-related issues, such as salinity and run-off. It is now recognised that where micro-irrigation is practised, the most effective way to feed the plant is through the irrigation system into the wetted root zone: this is the essence of fertigation.

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Feestock is the key

Summary

Cheap gas and the ability to supply the world's fastest growing markets are the cornerstones to the Arab Gulf's increasing significance in international fertilizer trade. This review examines the steps in each state's progress in capitalising on the region's special advantages

Abstract

The Arab Gulf region has an unassailable advantage in having abundant reserves of low-cost natural gas. This is an abundance which the countries in the region are only now beginning to exploit in full: having historically based their prosperity on the supply of crude oil and its derivatives to the world market.

The change in economic strategy has been prompted by the continuing sluggishness in global oil markets, which the OPEC consortium has been unable to stem. Oil consumers have enjoyed consistently low prices since the late 1980s, helped by a plentiful supply from both OPEC and non-OPEC members, and rather than allow their rate of economic progress to stagnate, the Arab Gulf oil producers have turned towards the alternative route of natural gas.

The prospects for growth through gas are good. Consumption of gas has risen almost threefold within the past 30 years, and by an average rate of 3%/year since the mid-1980s. Much of this new demand. is coming from the so-called "Tiger Economies" of Asia, particularly for power generation, while the industrialised western economies have also welcomed gas as a low-cost and less polluting alternative to other fossil fuels.

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