Kemira GrowHow is calling for greater perspective in the environmental
debate surrounding the use of Nitrogen fertilisers. The company
has pulled together the facts about fertilisers in a new booklet
called Improving Your Nitrogen Footprint, which it is launching
at Cereals 2007.
The booklet explains why farmers should not feel guilty about
using Nitrogen fertilisers to boost yields since, without them,
we could only continue to feed slightly over half the world’s
current population of 6.3 billion. It also provides practical guidance
for farmers to make sure their choice and use of fertilisers is
as efficient and, therefore, as environmentally-friendly as possible.
The general view is that producing Nitrogen fertiliser requires
loads of energy. In truth this is not the case. The total energy
demand of UK agriculture is less than 2% of the country’s
energy requirement and, of course, not all of that demand is connected
with fertiliser use.
The production process itself is actually incredibly efficient
and the factories in Britain are some of the most efficient. In
fact, the energy required for a tonne of British Ammonium Nitrate
is around 11 GJ (Gigajoules). In comparison, on average across
the EU25 it takes almost 14 GJ, whilst for Ammonium Nitrate produced
outside the EU the average is just over 15 GJ.
Fertilisers allow farmers to produce more food from each hectare
of land. Research shows that a crop of wheat grown with the optimum
amount of Nitrogen fertiliser will produce seven times more energy
than was used to make, transport and spread that fertiliser. The
crops grown will also capture four times more CO2 from the atmosphere
than was produced in the fertiliser manufacturing process.
Of course this does not mean that efforts to minimise agriculture’s
Nitrogen footprint should stop. We must all look for ways to improve.
More efficient use of Nitrogen comes from using tools like GrowHow’s
EnCompass nutrient planning software, Nitrogen Calculator and the
N-Min testing service. The company’s extensive R&D programme
is also yielding results to help customers leave a smaller Nitrogen
One of the biggest steps farmers can take to minimise their Nitrogen
footprint is to use a British produced product. Just as ‘Food
Miles’ are reduced by buying locally so are ‘Fertiliser
Miles’. On average a British produced fertiliser travels
140 miles compared to a typical import from a non-EU country which
will have travelled around 2000 miles. In transport terms to deliver
a bag of AN to farm a fertiliser manufactured outside the EU will
use five times more energy than one made in Britain.
To conclude, since we all have to eat, producing Nitrogen fertiliser
is arguably the only essential use for our limited resources of
fossil fuels. All the other uses simply make our lives more comfortable
and enjoyable but, we could survive without them.
For a free copy of Improving Your Nitrogen Footprint please send
an email with your name and postal address to email@example.com
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