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II. Fertilizer Consumption and Use

II. Fertilizer Consumption and Use

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TABLE I

World Plant Nutrient Consumption, Excluding Mainland China, for the Fertilizer

Years 1956-1957 and 1961-1962 in 1000 Short Tonsa

Continent

or country



1956-1957



Europe

3,349

U.S.S.R.

608

North and Central

2,399

America

South America

133

Asia

1,289

Africa

224

Oceania

40

Total

8,042

5



K



P



N



Total



1961-1962



1956-1957



1961-1962



19561957



1961-1962



4,836

947



1,744

366



2,139

406



3,459

694



4,217

648



1956-1957

8,552

1,668



1961-1982

11,192

1,999



sg

z

B

CI



z



3,614

188

1,850

408

50



1,129

65

239

112

304



1,301

98

358

145

379



1,728

65

516

49

38



2,026

111

634

94

111



5,256

263

2,044

385

382



6,941

397

2,842

647

540



11,893



3,959



4,826



6,549



7,839



18,550



24,558



9



M



3



2



5



F A 0 (1963).



w



4



LEWIS B. NELSON



cent of that used in North and Central America.) Percentagewise, the

greatest increases in fertilizer use occurred in the less developed countries; but the tonnages remain small.

F A 0 data for plant nutrient consumption per acre of arable land are

given in Table 11. Europe has the most intensive fertilizer use, followed

by North and Central America and Oceania. However, great variations

exist among countries, depending on their stage of development, density

of population, and climate.

TABLE I1

Fertilizer Consumption per Acre of Arable Land in 1960-1961a

Average pounds per acre of arable land

Continent or country



N



Europe

23.96

U.S.S.R.

2.99

North and

Central America

10.69

South America

2.56

Asia (excluding mainland

China and North Korea) 4.54

Africa

1.23

Oceania

0.98

World average

6.94



P



K



Total



10.96

1.40



21.50

2.48



56.42

6.87



4.05

0.90



6.21

1.63



20.95

5.09



7.18

1.74

0.90

1.96

0.30

0.43

13.21

2.25

9.98

14.65

4.80

2.91

a FA0 (1963). FA0 uses the term “arable land” to include land planted to

crops ( double-cropped area counted only once), land temporarily fallow, temporary

meadows, garden land, and land in fruits.



Countries using over 100 pounds of N, P, and K per acre of arable

land during 1960-1961 (FAO, 1963) were as follows: the Netherlands,

332 pounds; Belgium, 250; New Zealand, 217; Japan, 215; German Federal

Republic, 181; Taiwan, 154; Luxembourg, 146; Switzerland, 142; East

Germany, 134; United Kingdom, 125; Norway, 121; Republic of Korea,

106; and Denmark, 104. It is interesting to note that practically all of

these are well-developed countries having a high density of population.

Countries using between 20 and 100 pounds of N, P, and K per arable

acre include: Austria, 80; Ireland, 75; United Arab Republic, 70; France,

65; Czechoslovakia, 61; Finland, 58; Israel, 56; Sweden, 55; Poland, 34;

Italy, 33; Peru, 32; United States, 26; Greece, 26; Bulgaria, 25; Cuba, 24;

Spain, 21; and Yugoslavia, 20.

Countries averaging less than 20 pounds per acre of arable land include: Hungary, 19; Chile, 12; South Africa, 12; Dominican Republic, 10;

Australia, 9; Brazil, 9; Philippines, 9; Mexico, 7; U.S.S.R., 7; Algeria, 5;

Canada, 5; Rumania, 5; India, 2; and Turkey, 1. F A 0 has not provided

individual data for other low-fertilizer-using countries, apparently because of lack of information.



5



ADVANCES IN FERTILIZERS



Recent surveys in England, Wales, and Scotland (Fertiliser Manufacturers Association, 1964) show that virtually 100 per cent of the

acreage of cereals, sugar beets, and potatoes now receive fertilizer. Peracre rates of nitrogen applied on cereals have increased sharply in recent

years, while the rates for phosphorus and potassium have held fairly constant. Rates used on' sugar beets and potatoes have increased for all three

nutrients. For temporary grass, 69 per cent of the total acreage received

nitrogen and about half received phosphorus and potassium. For permanent grass, 38 per cent of the acreage received nitrogen, 34 per cent

TABLE I11

Use of Primary Nutrients on Major Crops in England, Wales, and Scotlanda

Average rate per fertilized acre (pounds)

Crop



N



15

19

45

51

26

27

Fertiliser Manufacturers Association ( 1964).



Spring cereals

Winter cereals

Sugar beets

Potatoes

Temporary grass

Permanent grass



41

56

118

115

51

43



P



K



32

37

137

147

38

33



Total



88

112

300

313

115

103



phosphorus, and 28 per cent potassium. Use of nitrogen has increased

substantially on all grasslands in recent years, but there has been little

change in phosphorus and potassium. Average rates of application per

acre for different crops are given in Table 111.

Indications are that world consumption of fertilizers will continue

to increase at a rapid rate. Major fertilizer-using countries are continuing

to build plants, and considerable activity is under way in construction

of new fertilizer facilities in many of the low-fertilizer-using countries.

Large ammonia facilities are being built or planned near sources of natural gas, with the intention of exporting low-cost ammonia. Phosphorus

and potassium deposits are being exploited rapidly.

The eventual level of fertilizer consumption in different countries is

subject to considerable speculation. Coleman (1963), for example, has

estimated that world requirements, excluding mainland China, will rise

to 54 million short tons of N, PzO5, and KzO by 1970 and to 77 million

by 1980.

Parker et al. (1964) suggest that fertilizer consumption in the already

high-consuming Western countries will increase at a slower pace than

in the lower-fertilizer-using countries. They project an average annual

increase for the high-consuming Western countries of about 3 per cent,

resulting in a total consumption increase from 22.0 million short tons of



6



LEWIS B. NELSON



N, P205,and K 2 0 in 1960 to 39.8 million in 1980. This conclusion is based

on the current high level of nutrition in most of these countries, the

comparatively low rate of increase of population, and the limited opportunities for agricultural export. Japan may already have reached or possibly exceeded its immediate total fertilizer needs. Countries with more

moderate fertilizer use rates, such as the United States, are likely to

increase at a more rapid rate. Heady and Tweeten (1963), for example,

estimate that fertilizer consumption in the United States will increase

60 to 67 per cent by 1980 over 1960.

According to Parker et d. (1964), eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R.

are expected to increase consumption at an average annual rate of about

12 per cent from 1960 to 1970 and at a somewhat lower rate from 1970

to 1980. Total consumption of N, PZOS, and KzO on this basis would

increase from 5.5 million short tons in 1960 to 27.9 million in 1980. Recent

reports indicate that steps are being taken in these countries, especially

in the U.S.S.R., markedly to increase fertilizer production and use

(Anonymous, 1964h,j).

In developing countries, where the urgency to increase agricultural

production is great and fertilizer use is low, fertilizers must be used in

ever larger amounts to meet the needs of expected increases in population and the greater per capita food consumption associated with

economic development. Estimates by Parker et d. (1964) indicate that

consumption must increase at the average annual rate of 15 per cent from

1960 to 1970 and 10 per cent from 1970 to 1980 if even modest levels of

human nutrition are to be achieved. This would increase the N, PzO5,

and KzO consumption from 3.0 million short tons in 1960 to 31.2 million

in 1980. The task of producing these kinds of increases in nonindustrialized countries is formidable. Lack of education of farmers, credit

limitations, and the high price of fertilizers in relation to the farmers’

ability to pay, underdeveloped or inadequate transportation and marketing systems, and many other factors must be overcome before the full

potential from fertilizers as a developmental tool can be realized,

Coleman (1963) estimates that mainland China has doubled its

fertilizer production since 1958. He further estimates that the minimum

need for plant nutrients by 1969-1970 will be about 5.5 million short

tons of N, PZO5,and KzO.



B. UNITEDSTATES

United States consumption, including Puerto Rico, totaled 7,367,516

short tons of N, P, and K (9,532,065 tons of N, PzO5, and KzO) for the

fertilizer year 1962-1963 (Scholl et al., 1984). Consumption has increased

steadily each year since 1942 when total consumption was 1,344,000 tons

of N, P, and K (2,076,000 tons of N, P206, and KzO).



ADVANCES IN FERTILIZERS



7



Increases in fertilizer use following World War I1 resulted initially

from the response of the American farmer to meet demands for increased

crop production during the postwar reconstruction period when exports

were high. This period was immediately followed by the Korean war,

which again placed a heavy demand on production. Following the

Korean war, however, the demand for farm products declined, but production continued to climb and farm income fell as a result. Caught in

a cost-price squeeze (farm prices fell 12 per cent while the cost of many

production items rose 50 per cent) and government-imposed acreage

controls, the farmer turned to those methods available to him which

would permit more production on fewer acres at less cost. Chief among

these was increased use of fertilizer since it was cheapest relative to the

production boost it gave and capital invested in fertilizer gave quick

returns. During all this time, rapid introduction of new technology into

the fertilizer industry, the construction of more efficient plants, and replacement of older, more expensive forms of fertilizers by less expensive

ones actually resulted in a decline in plant nutrient prices at a time when

most other production costs were increasing (Fig. 1). This, in turn,

further encouraged greater fertilizer use relative to other input factors

(Fig. 2 ) .

Consumption of N, P, and K from 1956-1957 to 1962-1963 increased

55 per cent. As elsewhere in the world, greatest gains were recorded for

nitrogen, which accounted for 37 of the 55 percentile points. Phosphorus

accounted for 7 and potassium for 11. Tonnage gains for each of the

primary nutrients are shown in Fig. 3.

Several factors apparently were responsible for the striking gain in

nitrogen consumption. These included recognition by farmers of the high

requirements of major crops for nitrogen, the need for higher and higher

per-acre yields in order to combat the cost-price squeeze, and the continuing replacement by chemical nitrogen of nitrogen previously produced by legumes in the crop rotation. These, coupled with increased

availability of fertilizer nitrogen at lower unit cost, all worked together

to bring about the upsurge in nitrogen consumption.

Not all regions' in the United States experienced similar gains in N,

1 The units comprising the regions are: New England-Maine,

New Hampshire,

Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut; Middle Atlantic-New York,

New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, West Virginia;

South Atlantic-Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida; East

North CentrubOhio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin; West North CentraZMinnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas; East

South Central-Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi; West South CentralArkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas; Mountain-Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada; Pacific-Washington, Oregon, and California. Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are reported separately.



8



LEWIS B. NELSON



P, and K consumption during the period 1956-1957 to 1962-1963 (Scholl

et al., 1958, 1964). The New England States gained least-6.3 per cent

and 5,600 tons-reflecting the declining agriculture and increasing urbanization of the region. Both phosphorus and potassium consumption

declined slightly, increased nitrogen consumption making up the difference.

1



1950



1954



1958



1962



FIG. 1. Prices of selected farm inputs in the United States, 1950-1962. (Plant

nutrient costs based on N, P205,and K20.)Index: 1950 = 100. ( U . S. Department

of Agriculture and Tennessee Valley Authority.)



FIG. 2. Use of selected farm inputs in the United States, 1950-1962. Index:

1950 = 100. ( U. S. Department of Agriculture.)



9



ADVANCES IN FERTILIZERS



Modest gains, well below those experienced nationally, were recorded

in three of the older fertilizer-using regions. NPK use in the Middle

Atlantic States increased by 77,000 tons or 20 per cent, in the South

Atlantic by 240,000 tons or 23 per cent, and in the East South Central

by 159,000 tons or 26 per cent. Consumption of phosphorus showed the

least gain in all three regions, apparently reflecting the decreasing crop



I



1957



I



I



1959

1961

Year ended June 3 0



I



I



1963



FIG.3. Consumption of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the United

States and Puerto Rico, years ended June 30, 1957-1963. (U. S. Department of Agriculture.)



response to this element resulting from its large residual buildup in the

soils. Nitrogen and potassium use increased in all three regions, the

largest increase in potassium occurring in the South Atlantic States.

NPK consumption in the East North Central States increased 622,000

tons or 58 per cent, the largest gain again occurring with nitrogen. In

the West North Central States, plant nutrient usage increased 802,000

tons or 136 per cent. Nitrogen use more than doubled, and large increases

occurred both for phosphorus and potassium. The West South Central

States experienced a 408,000-ton or 110-per cent increase, with a large

increase in nitrogen and smaller gains for the other two elements.

In the Pacific States, NPK use increased 195,000 tons or 50 per cent

from 1956-1957 to 1962-1963. Percentagewise, the increase was about



10



LEWIS B. NELSON



evenly divided among the three elements, but the largest tonnage increase, 157,000 tons, was with nitrogen, the most used element in the region. (In 1962-1963, the Pacific States consumed 466,000tons of N, 70,000

tons of P, and 44,OOO tons of K.) Consumption in the Mountain States

increased 105,000 tons or 85 per cent. This region, traditionally a sma11

user of potassium, used 172,000 tons of nitrogen, 50,000 tons of phosphorus, and 6,000 tons of potassium in 1962-1963 compared with 9O,OOO,



Cror,



TABLE IV

Use of Primary Plant Nutrients on Major Crops

in the United States During 19595

Average rate

Percentage

per fertilized acre (pounds)

K

Total

fertilizedh

N

P



~



Corn

Sorghum

Soybeans

Peanuts

Cotton

Tobacco

Sugar beets

Potatoes

Vegetables

Tree fruits

Wheat

Rice

Oats

Barley

Tame hay and cropland

pasture

Improved permanent

pasture

5



64

21

16

67

64

99

93

88

75

73

38

93

30

37



41

54

9

12

68

75

91

99

72

94

26

53

19

30



11



20

Ibach et al. ( 1964).

U. S. Department of Agriculture.



16

12

15

15

63

41

58

40

26

13

14

14

10



31

19

32

39

41

151

44

117

68

85

28

28

30

23



66

129

289

176

274

180

205

67

95

63

63



28



21



40



89



27



16



28



71



20



88

85

58



30,000, and 3,000 tons, respectively, in 19561957. Fertilizer consumption

in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico changed little either in the amounts

or proportions of the elements used.

The most recent US. Department of Agriculture data on fertilizer

use by crops is given in Table IV. The high cash return crops-tobacco,

tree fruit, vegetables, potatoes, sugar beets, and cotton-are the most

completely and highly fertilized. Only a relatively small percentage of

the small grain acreage is fertilized, and, where applied, the fertilizer is

used at relatively low rates. Soybeans, which seldom respond much to

fertilizer, receive very little. Hay and pasture are unquestionably the

most underfertilized crops in the country.



11



ADVANCES I N FERTILIZERS



As shown in Table V, over 37 per cent of all plant nutrients used in

the United States are applied to corn. Tame hay and cropland pasture,

wheat, and cotton each account for over 8 per cent of the total used.

Nutrient use on each of the other crops is considerably less as a result

of either low acreages or low nutrient use per acre.

TABLE V

Total Acreage Fertilized and Percentage Distribution of Plant Nutrient Use by

Major Crops in the United States During 1959



Crop



Corn

51,095

Sorghum

3,725

Soybeans

3,633

Peanuts

963

Cotton

9,398

Tobacco

1,115

Sugar beets

846

Potatoes

1,087

Vegetables

3,739

Tree fruits

2,981

Wheat

18,986

Rice

1,504

Oats

7,868

Barley

5,300

Tame hay and cropland

pasture

13,314

Improved permanent

pasture

4,740

All other, including

nonfarm

a



Nutrient use,

per cent of U. S. total



Total acreage

fertilized

( 1000 acres)



N



P



K



Total



39.3

3.9

0.3

0.01

12.4

1.6

1.4

2.1

5.3

5.4

8.6

1.6

2.8

2.9



36.5

1.2

2.5



37.7

0.5

3.1

1.1

7.0

5.0

0.2

2.9

6.1

4.0

6.8

0.5

0.7



37.9

2.0

1.9

0.6

8.8

3.2

1.1

2.6

6.1

3.8

8.4

0.9

4.1

1.9



5.3



12.7



11.6



9.7



2.2



3.5



3.2



2.9



-



4.89



3.2

-



4.5

-



100.0



100.0



100.0



0.6



6.5

3.4

1.5

2.9

6.9

2.0

9.5

0.6

4.7

1.8







5.1



4.1



100.0



U. S. Department of Agriculture.



111. Nitrogen



Recent years have seen a marked revolution in the nitrogen fertilizer

industry. Changes have occurred not so much from the introduction of

new materials, but in greatly expanded production and consumption, the

changing importance of the different nitrogen materials, the sources of

hydrogen used in the manufacture of ammonia, and in improvements of

manufacturing processes.

According to the British Sulphur Corporation’s statistics on world

nitrogen production for 19621963 ( Anonymous, 1964d), three-fourths

of the worlds fixed nitrogen (15,434,000short tons) is produced by nine



12



LEWIS B. NELSON



countries: United States, 26.9 per cent; West Germany, 9.5; Japan, 8.4;

U.S.S.R., 8.4; France, 5.9; Italy, 5.3; United Kingdom, 4.4; and Canada

and the Netherlands each 3.1. Approximately 85 per cent of all fixed

nitrogen is used in fertilizers. The major exporters of nitrogen fertilizers

are West Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The nitrogen industry is expanding rapidly (Table VI), with the

greatest expansion in the United States. By the end of 1985, a number

of new projects also are expected to be completed in India, Pakistan,

Burma, Malaya, Vietnam, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Japan, Philippines, and Australia. New projects in Africa are under development and

construction. Central and South American countries are adding substantial tonnages, The United Kingdom and other western European

TABLE VI

Output and Per Cent Changes in World Production of Nitrogenous Fertilizers

between 1958-1957 and 1961-1962a

Output, 1000 short tone N

Continent or country

Europe



U.S.S.R.

North and Central America

South America

Asia

Africa

Oceania

a



World total

FA0 (1963).



1956-1957

4,079

634

2,496

249

990



44

29

8,521



1961-1962

6,009

1,036

3,631

287

1,539

183

31

12,716



Per cent

increase



47.3

63.4

45.5

15.3

55.5

315.9

6.9

49.3



counties are expanding production. Recently announced plans by the

U.S.S.R. involving 28 new nitrogen plants, if carried to completion, probably would amount to the most massive fertilizer nitrogen expansion

program in the history of the industry (Anonymous, 1964f).

According to Coleman (1963), world consumption of nitrogen can be

expected to double between 1960 and 1970, the percentage increase

being greatest in the nutritionally deficient countries. In tonnage, however, greatest increases are expected to be in those countries already

consuming large amounts of nitrogen and in eastern Europe and the

U.S.S.R.

A. SOURCESOF FIXED

N~OGEN

Over 80 per cent of the estimated 20-million-ton nitrogen capacity of

the world is based on synthetic ammonia. In early 1963, some 278 synthetic ammonia plants were in operation and another 43 were under construction (Sweeney, 1963). The remaining 20 per cent of the worlds



ADVANCES IN FERTILIZERS



13



output is recovered from coke oven gases, by the cyanamide process, and

a small amount from natural materials.

The basic synthetic ammonia process itself has changed little from

the original Haber-Bosch process of 1913 in which NH3 is synthesized

catalytically under pressure. However, refinements in the process and

improvements in plant design have brought about reduced plant investments and lower operating costs. Nitrogen used in the synthesis is obtained from the atmosphere, while hydrogen comes from a variety of

sources, depending on availability and cost. A discussion of synthetic

ammonia manufacture is given by Sharp and Powell (1963) and Axelrod

and OHare (1964).

Before World War 11, 90 per cent of the synthetic ammonia production was based on hydrogen produced by the reaction of coal and coke

with water vapor. Since that time there has been a rapid shift to lower

cost hydrocarbon sources. Latest data show that only 40 per cent of the

world's synthetic ammonia is now produced through the use of coal and

coke. Thirty-one per cent comes from the use of natural gas, 15 per cent

from fuel oil, 9 per cent from refinery gases, and 5 per cent from other

sources (FAO, 1963). The wide choice of methods of obtaining hydrogen

removes the necessity of locating ammonia plants near sources of coal

and coke and permits them to be located nearer or in consuming areas.

The United States, with its abundant and low-cost supply of natural

gas, has shifted almost entirely to this material for hydrogen production.

About 4 per cent of the ammonia is made using hydrogen from chlorine

plants and refinery gas, and about 1.5 per cent using hydrogen from

coke-oven gas. Japan in 1953 derived 69 per cent of its ammonia from

the use of coal and coke and 26 per cent from electrolytic hydrogen

(Anonymous, 1964e). By 1963, these two together accounted for only

12 per cent of the total, the remainder being obtained through the use

of crude oil, natural gas, coke-oven gases, and refinery and waste gases.

In 1959, the U.S.S.R. derived 55.5 per cent of its ammonia from solid

coal and coke, 38.8 per cent from natural gas, and 5.7 per cent from

waste gases. Plans call for deriving increasingly larger amounts of hydrogen from the use of natural gas, casing head gas, and refinery waste

gas (Anonymous, 1964f). Although changes in source of hydrogen are

occurring rapidly in most countries, western Europe still relies on coal

for more than half of its synthetic ammonia production.

A major recent innovation has been that of locating a Iarge-capacity

ammonia plant in Trinidad close to the source of very low-cost natural

gas and moving the liquefied ammonia by specially built tankers into

international commerce (Anonymous, 1964a). Under normal situations,



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