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Gas holds the key to Bangladesh's future

Summary

In spite of the country's relative poverty, Bangladesh has a key resource in its natural gas reserves. However, exploiting them remains a thorny issue in domestic politics.

Abstract

Bangladesh is one of world’s most densely populated countries, with its 147 million people crammed into a delta of rivers that empties into the Bay of Bengal. The country is 33 years old, being formed from the breakaway of East Pakistan from West Pakistan during the bitter civil war of 1971, which also drew in India. In spite of making considerable pro­gress in areas such as health and education since then, the country remains a poor one, especially in rural areas, and average GDP per capita is only $ 360. It is also a predominantly low-lying country, vulnerable to the annual cycle of cyclones and monsoon flooding.

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A growing solution

Summary

Fertigation the delivery of fertilizers via irrigation water is becoming increasingly important in Asia as agriculture, the main user of water, must compete for a scarce resource with rapidly developing urban areas. Fertigation attempts to improve the water efficiency of agriculture by delivering carefully balanced fertilizer amounts in an irrigation system.

Abstract

It has been said that water use is becoming one of the key issues of the 21st century, as the human population rises. Many countries are suffering from water use issues, and 30 countries are subject to chronic water shortages or droughts. Globally, about 70 % of all water used in human activities is consumed in agriculture. In Asia this figure reaches 85 %, and a staggering 92 % in the Indian subcontinent. The amount of water required to grow various food and forage crops is considerable, ranging from 300-2,000 litres per kilogram of harvested crop product. Management of water use in agriculture, especially in Asia, where there are rapidly growing populations, is thus a major issue for governments and farmers alike. Many farmers in the region are finding, for example, that they are facing increasing prices and deteriorating quality of water supplied as competition grows with urban populations for an increasingly scarce resource. Increased competition for water between sectors already affects agriculture in China, India, Malaysia, Thailand and the Republic of Korea and the trend is towards an intensification of the problem due mainly to the rapid growth of the domestic and industrial sectors in these countries. The need for water saving has become crucial, since water saved en­ables farmers to cultivate more land, or to maintain and improve crop yield and quality on established land.

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A new treatment offers enhanced quality

Summary

The German company K-UTEC has devised a post-treatment process that significantly improves the quality of granular potash, as described here.

Abstract

The production of granular potash requires the most stringent quality standards which must be guaranteed for the customer, throughout the production process and up to the point of sale. In the course of the transport and storage processes in the logistical chain that leads to the customer, the fertilizer granule is exposed to the following influences:

  • Static strain through the high pressure of dead weight during storage.
  • Friction of granules under high pressure when removed from storage.
  • Friction of granules in bulk streams (conveyor transfer points, chutes).
  • Impact of granules on one other and on compact metal or concrete surfaces (storage, conveyor or transfer points).
  • Absorption and emission of humidity in storage and/or transport in areas of relative atmospheric humidity.

Depending on the physical quality of the granulate, these strains can lead to the abrasion, fracture or crushing of individual granules. The problem of new formation of dust during the transport processes can lead to losses of product of up to 15 %, which the customer normally has to bear.

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Spotlight on an undervalued nutrient

Summary

Magnesium (Mg) is an essential nutrient, and as an important constituent of chlorophyll, it plays a key role in the photosynthetic process. Mg fertilisation is increasingly attracting the attention of growers and planters, especially in the humid tropics, where intensive rainfall and high temperatures have resulted in large leaching losses. Soils consequently have low Mg contents. Mg can be applied to the plant via a range of different sources, and these are reviewed here.

Abstract

Magnesium (Mg) is classified as a macronutrient, albeit one whose importance in plant nutrition is often overlooked. Mg performs several physiological, biochemical and regulatory functions in the plant body, as follows:

  • Chlorophyll formation: Mg lies at the heart of the chlorophyll molecule and so is indispensable for photosynthesis by plants.
  • Activation of enzymes: In higher plants, some important enzymes are activated by Mg. These include AMP pyro-phosphorylase, IMP-pyro-phos­horylase, Hexokinase, Glucokinase, Fructokinase and Phospho-Glycerate Kinase.
  • Synthesis of proteins and chromosomes formation: Mg is a component of chromosomes (which act as bearers of the hereditary characters in living organisms) and polyribosomes (which are required for protein synthesis). This role makes Mg an important nutrient for plant growth.
  • Carbohydrate metabolism and energy transfer: Mg plays an active part in the metabolism of carbohydrates and transfer of energy in the plant body, as well as in phosphate metabolism and plant respiration.

 

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Pioneering conference spotlights every facet

Summary

The pioneering Phosphates 2005 fills a major niche in the international fertilizer industry calendar. The first British Sulphur Phosphates Conference and Exhibition will take place between 3-5 April 2005 at the Sofitel Rive Gauche, Paris, and has been organised to bring together representatives from the full spectrum of disciplines to discuss the future direction of phosphate markets and the key issues and developments that will affect it. The spotlight will fall on all major sectors in the international phosphate industry the mining and beneficiation of phosphate rock, the production of phosphate-derived intermediates, fertilizers, animal feeds and industrial phosphate products.

Abstract

Phosphates 2005 is well timed, and the international phosphate industry is currently enjoying a buoyant period. There nevertheless remain significant challenges which the leading industry participants will have to address, most notably at the original source of supply – phosphate rock.

While producers continue to add to the total supply of phosphoric acid, granular fertilizer, animal feed and industrial phosphate capacity, few new rock mines are under active development at present. Indeed, many phosphate rock producers will need to invest significant capital just to maintain output or enhance rock quality for the production of higher analysis products in these new downstream plants. (Market Mosaic, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 2005) According to this assessment, “phosphate demand looks like it will outpace supply coming from the world’s rock mines during the next five years.”

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India: a DAP reckoning

Summary

Indian's consumption of fertilizers recorded positive growth for all the three major nutrients in 2003/04, and forecasts for 2004/05 point to a further increase in growth. In common with other countries in the South Asian region, India has sought to maintain farm gate prices for fertilizers, including DAP. Will this be sufficient to stimulate the massive rate of growth in consumption that is required to meet the medium-term targets for India's food grain production? Raza Soomar, President of RNZ International, considers the options.

Abstract

The 2003/04 Fertilizer Year may be dubbed as the Indian Year of Agri Recovery, as fertilizer consumption and food grain production both recorded higher totals compared with 2002/03. Nutrient consumption recovered from a total of 16.09 million tonnes in 2002/03 to 16.90 million tonnes in 2003/04, recording a growth rate of 5 %. Food grain production posted a massive increase of 17.8 % during the year, up to 212.1 million tonnes compared with the 174.2 million tonnes produced in 2002/03. Further­more, the indications for the current fertilizer year to date indicate that 2004/05 may turn out to be still better, both in terms of fertilizer consumption and food grain production.

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VICHEM offers turnkey solutions

Summary

The French company, VICHEM, has gained over half a century's experience as a leading supplier of technology and support services for the phosphate industry worldwide. Gerard Malugani, Managing Director, describes some of VICHEM's major innovations.

Abstract

Phosphate-based products form the basis for many chemical intermediates, including fertilizers, food supplements for animals, key chemicals for washing powders, additives for human food, as well as a range of speciality products. For the production of these intermediates, many technologies are implemented in a wide range of fields, ranging from ­mineral reactions chemistry, corrosion, heat ­science and separation physics.

This technology was developed in the past by companies which were specialised in these applications, or were engineering companies in a phase of general development of their activities. With the passage of time, these engineering companies tended to withdraw from these types of activities to concentrate on activities more related to their development strategy.

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K+S picks up the baton in France

Summary

Kali und Salz AG (K+S) embarks on 2005 in a position of strength. In December 2004, the company formally completed its acquisition of the assets and marketing rights of the French potash company, SCPA. K+S has meanwhile attended to its production capability, and the recently completed sylvinite project in Germany will reap major gains in terms of efficiency and the guaranteed supply of high quality raw material.

Abstract

As one chapter closes in France, another opens. On 14 December 2004, Kali und Salz AG (K+S) completed its acquisition of the fertilizer distribution and production capacity of the long-established Société Commerciale des Potasses et de l’Azote (SCPA) – a wholly owned subsidiary of the state-controlled group, Entreprise Minière et Chimique (EMC). The deal formally brought an end to direct French involvement in the potash industry. This had been on course once EMC put SCPA up for sale in 2003, after the last potash mine in Alsace closed down following the depletion of its reserves.

While EMC declared at the time the For Sale sign was posted that “It made little sense for a public company without any mining activities to continue running commercial operations,” SCPA remained a profitable operation with a significant portfolio of assets. The termination of potash mining in Alsace also left EMC with a large bill for clearing the mine site and winding down its operations.

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