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 15 sep 2017 19:42 

Mineral fertiliser industry: an essential and efficient part of the agrifood chain and the nutrients

BELFertil, the Belgian-Luxemburg Mineral Fertilizer Association, is celebrating its 10th anniversary today. It is a sector with strong local roots operating in a global context and investing in solutions for global challenges, such as the food issue, and local problems, such as the loss of nutrients into the environment.

Excellence in production, combined with an end product that dovetails optimally with the nutrient issue, makes the mineral fertiliser industry an essential and efficient part of the agro-food chain and the nutrients cycle.

The mineral fertiliser industry is anchored historically in Belgium. The history of the federation itself goes back to the twenties and thirties of the previous century. In its current form, it is 10 years old. The location of the celebration of this anniversary was not simply chosen at random. Fifty years ago, on 15 May 1967, the first fertiliser pellets rolled off the conveyor belt in Antwerp. Since that time, the site has been expanded and integrated further and is now part of the largest chemical cluster in Europe. Moreover, to date, this site, with production at 2.3 million tonnes, is the largest mineral fertiliser production site in Belgium. The fertiliser market has become fully global and the excellent quality products from Belgium find their way to all agricultural continents and countries in the world.

Our food and, in connection with this, the soil fertility concern many others, even though few people stop to think about this.
Various actors are involved in the nutrient story and the BELFertil members’ activities, both within and outside of agriculture, which is not surprising. At a global level, an ever-increasing world population and a stagnating agricultural area make a focused and efficient fertiliser essential. At a local level, matching the supply and demand of nutrients without overburdening the environment is a challenge.

These are social themes to which we as an industry wish to contribute in complement to others in this playing field – on the one hand, on the industrial side but especially, on the other hand, on the consumer side.

The industry is evolving into a dynamic of specialities and innovative products. Products that are directed at getting the right dosage of the right nutrients in the right place at the right time. The sector therefore not only optimises the product, but also provides instruments that allow the user to evolve to precision farming. In this way, the sector helps the farmer to increase the efficiency of the use of nutrients and to reduce the losses into the environment.
For decades already, efficiency in production with almost no loss of nutrients has been at the top of the list of priorities in every production facility. The emissions of nitrogen oxides and laughing gas during the production process have been decreased by more than half, and the specific energy use has gone down as well. In addition, the mineral fertiliser industry plays a crucial role in recovering nutrients from technical material flows and in preserving production chains. An example: 35% of the nitrogen fertiliser produced in Belgium is derived from the recovery from such flows.

This excellence in production, combined with an end product that dovetails optimally with the nutrient issue, makes the mineral fertiliser industry an essential and efficient part of the agro-food chain and the nutrient cycle.

For 10 years, BELFertil has been the contact point for the mineral fertiliser industry in civil society. It is BELFertil’s ambition complimentary to other nutrient suppliers to continue to offer a positive response to the challenges associated with soil fertility and food supply without losing sight of the quality of the environment, both in production and in use.
All BELFertil members contribute to different social challenges in their own way. BELFertil aims to combine these good practices and to contribute to the nutrient cycle of tomorrow by, among other things, collaborating with knowledge centres and other involved parties.

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