Fertilizer’s key role in feeding the world
Fertilizer was one of the great inventions of the 20th century and without it almost half of the world’s population would not be alive today.
Global Fertilizer Day on October 13 celebrates the discovery, more than 100 years ago, of a process of making ammonia from nitrogen in the air, the basis of the industrial process used to make fertilizers.
The so-called Haber-Bosch method revolutionised agriculture and helped meet the growing global demand for food. Fertilizer is now responsible for about 50% of the world’s food supply and will continue to play a key role in helping society increase crop production, especially as the United Nations forecasts an increase in the world from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 billion by 2050.
Analysts estimate that food production will need to rise by 60% to meet the increase in the world’s population, meaning that humans will need to produce more food in the next 40 years than they did in the previous 10,000 put together.
Fertilizers will play a critical role in achieving this. Increased urbanisation means there is already less land available for arable use, so growers will need to improve productivity on existing farmland.
While in the 1960s one hectare of land fed two people, by 2025 that same hectare will need to feed five people. Fertilizers, which help replenish essential natural nutrients in the soil after each harvest, will be vital in helping farmers achieve necessary increases in crop production.
At the same time, fertilizer producers continue to innovate, developing new ways of delivering nutrients to plants as sustainably as possible. At EuroChem we are working on second-generation fertilizers with a smaller environmental footprint. These products will consume less energy in production, require less water to be effective and emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions when used. This will enable farmers to improve crop yields more sustainably and also help society meet the challenge of global food security.