DS 3.5: Technology innovation in fertilizers

Abstract/Description: Technology Innovation in Fertilizers (Version 1*, April 23, 2013)

Fertilizer is crucial for ensuring the global food security. The production of most phosphorus fertilizer is based on wet processing and results in orthophosphates and polyphosphates. Both wet and dry processes are energy intense and produce large amounts of waste (gypsum). The current processes of phosphorus fertilizer production are not specified to soil and plant type. Mineral phosphorus based fertilizers may be either water and ammonium citrate fertilizer soluble or not. Given that the investment in innovation is low in the fertilizer domain (< 1%) it is not surprising that there are many options to improve fertilizers.

Organic fertilizers from manure include about 25-40% of the mineral fertilizers. The nutrient contents of this fertilizer varies between regions, species etc. A problem is the large weight/mass to be transported. Though there are new methods of anerobic digestion or incineration, mostly site specific solutions may be found.

A third track of producing fertilizers is referring to sewage. Though this fraction is below 10% and asks for developed waste water treatment plants, it offers an option for closing the fertilizer loop.

Currently the concept of integrated fertilization (also called integrated soil fertility management) has been developed.

The organizers of the Global TraPs World Conference in Beijing would like to invite key stakeholders from science, practice and politics to the Dialogue Session on prospects of Technology Innovation in Fertilizers. Hereby options for improving the production and use of mineral fertilizers and the need for balanced fertilization and integrated soil fertility management will be discussed in terms of technological innovations. The session creates a foundation for discussion based on the input of the session’s participants who present the topic from different perspectives. The objective is to promote a mutual understanding, to define options for key actors as well as their interactions and to identify policy options.

The key questions are: What new technologies are available regarding the production and use of fertilizer? How can technology innovations in fertilizer contribute to food security and avoid negative environmental and social impacts?


* This is the first version of the description of what will be dealt with in the DS 3.5 Fertilizer Innovation and provides only a rough description of what will be discussed. A group of practitioners and scientists are currently revising this abstract and composing a booklet which will prepare all participants for the DS on June 18. Please contact Franziska Fischer <franziska.fischer@uni-oldenburg.de>, member of the TD Support team or Anh Pallas, Science manager of Global TraPs if you want to join <a.pham@gmx.ch>