Fertiliser industry forecasts a declining European market
Changes to Europe's Common Agriculture Policy are expected to lead to reductions in artificial fertilisers in all areas except wheat production.
The European Fertilizer Manufacturers Association (EFMA) has presented 10-year forecasts that include:
- 7% reduction in nitrates
- 10% reduction in phosphates
- 4% reduction in potassium-based fertilisers
In particular, sharp reductions are forecast for the Netherlands’ fertiliser consumption, while already-apparent reductions in Denmark will continue.
The EFMA identifies new codes of integrated crop management – a system of minimising fertiliser consumption – as impacting on sales, including:
- fertiliser consumption plans that take into account the nutrients provided by manures, slurries and crop residues
- use of calibrated spreaders for accurate fertiliser application
- switch to high-yielding plant varieties that will maximise nitrate use
- introduction of plant cover crops to retain nutrients in topsoil
- policies discouraging fertiliser spreading near watercourses, frozen or waterlogged land
- selective irrigation
Scientists and activists campaigning for sustainable farming practices in Europe have argued that the EC Agenda 2000 programme of changes to the Common Agriculture Policy do not go far ahead (see related story). The EFMA disagrees and predicts dire consequences.
“If these trends continue in the longer term, nutrient deficiencies will affect the health and quality of crops and, eventually, soils will become exhausted,” warns the EFMA. The association also states that: “Before fertilisers became available, deficiency diseases in farm animals and humans were widespread. Inadequate plant nutrition induced vitamin deficiencies, bone weaknesses and other diseases.”