Keywords: Fertiliser, Agricultural policy.
Fertilisers are nutrients for plant growth and development and these nutrients are built up of 13-18 essential mineral elements. Fertiliser products express the system for carrying the selected nutrient elements to the plants.
The fertiliser product structure can be expressed as a combination of:
– chemical composition
– physical form and quality
– package type and lay-out
– transportation and delivery system
– application know-how
– environmental knowledge
– product commitment
– customer service
– payment structure
During the coming years we will experience developments in all these product blocks. The payment structure needs to be improved so that the poor farmer in undeveloped countries can obtain fertilisers to increase the yield and as such be able to pay for the fertiliser. We need to minimise the transportation cost which may account for up to 40% of the delivery cost at the farm gate. We need to improve application and environmental knowledge to cope with new regulations and customer needs, etc., etc.
Fertiliser products represent an essential link in the world food production chain and we need to improve and develop the products to meet changing global, local and social needs. As an example Hydro Agri switched from technology driven research to market driven research during the 1980s. By establishing a common understanding of customer needs and the business strategy, multifunctional teams with market, production and research representatives generate ideas which give continual incremental improvements, thus, over time, creating major improvements.
Fertilisers for the future is an ambitious topic which needs limitations. I will mainly focus on the chemical composition and the physical form of the product, and I will limit the time perspective to 10-30 years. At the end of the paper, however, I will focus on fertiliser products in a long term perspective, i.e. post year 2025. I will also limit my presentation to dwell mainly upon the European scene. I do, however, believe that the development in Europe may be a good example for what may follow in other parts of the world.
It is impossible to try to predict the future fertiliser developments without both looking 40 years back and also analysing today’s political signals, social trends and technical possibilities. I will therefore try to analyse how agricultural policies, environmental and safety regulations, the farmers’ situation and agronomic and technical developments may influence the future fertiliser products.
Gunnar Kongshaug, Hydro Agri Europe, Porsgrunn, Norway.
35 pages, 3 figures, 9 tables, 18 refs.