Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Technology Makes Fertilizer Less Dangerous

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's recent articles regarding farming contained many inaccurate, misleading and misrepresentations of modern farming and conservation practices. Here is yet another response to the Post-Dispatch.

New technology makes
fertilizer less dangerous

The article "More ethanol, more corn, more fertilizer, more pollution" (June 10, 2007) misrepresents the role fertilizers play in food, fiber, feed and fuel production. While the increase in corn demand for ethanol production is indisputable, the negative consequences of these changes are not. Commercial fertilizers are the most manageable source of nutrients and as such are the best tool farmers have to maximize crop production while minimizing environmental impact.

In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that U.S. farmers are using fertilizer nutrients with the greatest efficiency in history. Between 1980 and 2005, U.S. corn production increased by 74 percent. Meanwhile, farmers' use of nitrogen on corn over this period increased only 3 percent, while use of phosphate and potash fell 20 and 24 percent, respectively.

Nutrients removed by crops need to be replaced to maintain soil fertility. We strongly support using the right product and applying it at the right rate, right time and right place. Paired with efforts to use advanced fertilizer technologies, farmers indeed can meet our food and energy needs and protect the environment. What's more, we repeatedly have sought Agriculture Department backing for the use of advanced fertilizer technologies in conservation programs, but to date have received little support for encouraging farmer use of these products.

The North American fertilizer industry has a long history of partnering with farmers and the more than 13,000 Certified Crop Advisers to ensure maximum crop productivity, while protecting water quality, soil quality and the environment.

Kathleen Mathers | Washington, D.C.
Vice President of Public Affairs, The Fertilizer Institute

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

balanced food and fuel energy security conservation stewardship

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