Food production also needs ‘nutrition’, i.e. plant nutrition. Just as in humans, plant nutrition requires a healthy balance. Shortages lead to starvation and symptoms of deficiencies, excess leads to loss of quality in the agricultural product and the environment.
Sustainable fertilisation starts from the needs of the soil and the crop and is based on the principle of the 4 Os: an Optimum product is used in the Optimum dose at the Optimum time in the Optimum place. Plant feed and soil fertility form a complex whole. Many parameters, often local ones, need to be taken into account to approach this properly and efficiently. The industry helps the farmer increase the efficiency of nutrients (SDG 2) and reduce emissions to the environment (SDG 6).
Mineral fertilisers optimise the plant nutrition, resulting in a net increase in food and biomass production and an improvement in the mineral composition of our food. The lion’s share of mineral fertilisers used today are products that also occur naturally, but are processed in factories in such a way that they provide balanced nutrition for agricultural crops and that the nutrients are absorbed efficiently by the plants. In this way, they meet the requirements of food safety, environmental protection and other operational requirements. The demand for suitable and balanced nutrients is central to the production and use of mineral fertilisers.
Between 1990 and 2014, the efficiency of use of the nutrient nitrogen has increased by no less than 75% whilst maintaining the quality of the food products and increasing productivity. The introduction of mineral fertilisers has enabled cereal harvests in Europe to be tripled since the 1950s, whilst the use of mineral phosphorous and potassium in European fields has remained at the same level.
The mineral fertiliser industry in our country has thus evolved into an industry with high-quality products geared to ensuring that the right nutrients reach the right place at the right time and in the right dose.