Keywords: Fertiliser supply, Fertiliser distribution.
There is an infinite number of ways of getting fertilisers from the plant to the farm if one takes account of the possible combinations of options in transport, storage, handling, the form of the fertiliser, the conditioning, etc. Every situation is unique and there is no ‘best’ system. The cost of getting fertilisers from the plant to the farm accounts for a substantial proportion of the farm-delivered cost when all the items are taken into account. Furthermore, while the manufacturer often has little scope for making further economies in the production costs, the distribution system may offer further opportunities.
It is not just a question of economics. The efficiency of getting fertilisers from the plant to the farm determines whether the products are available when and where the farmer requires them, and whether he has access to products suited to the crop and soils to which they will be applied. This affects the efficiency of the use in agriculture of the products, with impacts on food production and the environment.
The market distribution aspects of the supply of fertilisers to the farmer probably receive less attention than they deserve. This is particularly the case with countries which until recently had a centrally planned economy, of producers with no involvement in the distribution of their products, and of countries whose supplies are obtained from such producers. Even some of the most long-established producers have found that there are still possibilities of increasing the efficiency of distribution.
The aim of this paper is to draw attention to the importance of the distribution sector, particularly in countries where there are, at present, gross deficiencies, to dissipate some of the myths concerning the systems, and tentatively to anticipate future developments. In the first part of the paper the fertiliser supply systems which have developed in different regions of the world are reviewed. In the second part some important aspects of fertiliser distribution are analysed.
K F Isherwood, International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA), 28 rue Marbeuf, Paris, France.
27 pages, 5 tables, 16 refs.