Fertilizers are well known for their contribution to the world’s food supply. Soil plus fertilizer can produce more crops than soil alone, which is essential to domestic and global food production.
Increasing world populations are placing greater demands on U.S. agriculture to produce more food – hence requiring more fertilizer. The U.S. is the largest importer of fertilizer in the world, as domestic supply is inadequate for some nutrients; imports account for the majority of North American fertilizer consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows farmers today are using fertilizer nutrients with the most efficiency in history. Farmers in the U.S. are highly productive, providing food and grain to meet domestic demands while also producing and exporting for a large portion of the world.
Fertilizer mixtures contain various concentrations of nitrogen, ammonium sulphate, potassium chloride (potash) or urea; all considered straight or basic materials. These can be applied directly to the soil or combined to become compound fertilizers; compound fertilizers are needed depending on the crop and the condition of the soil.
Forecasts estimate the world’s population at nine billion by about 2050. Without fertilizer to boost crop production in the areas already cultivated, additional land would need to be used for production to keep people fed and healthy.
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