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Stackyard News Jun 07

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Kemira GrowHow Adds Perspective to Green Debate

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 footprint.

footprintOne 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

link Demand for Biofuels Inflates Global Food Prices
link SAC highlights potential of organic grain production
link Crop Market Update

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