international fertilizer correspondent
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News from the market
Prompted by the BSE crisis and, more recently, by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Western Europe, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about food safety. Fearful of unseen, long term consequences of conventional agriculture, whether that fear is reasonable or not, more and more people are choosing to buy food that has been grown or raised ‘organically’.
Coupled with this trend is the challenge facing policy makers, in the EU in particular, of how to reform agriculture so that it both serves its purpose for food production but also conserves the landscape and environment as the majority of the electorate wish to see it. In Germany, for example, 20% of agricultural land will soon be farmed under the ‘organic’ label, and Austria and Sweden already have a fairly high percentage of organic farms. The market share of organic food, though small, is rising fast.
One of the driving forces is urbanization. Higher income and different living conditions change food buying habits from loose unbranded cereals towards more meat, fruit and vegetables and, ultimately, to packaged, processed, fresh and ‘healthy’ food. The lead article in this issue of ifc considers the consequences for soil nutrient management.
One of the philosophies underpinning ‘organic’ farming is that of ‘closed’ nutrient cycles but how can this be achieved when nutrients are removed from the soil and ‘exported’ into towns? Eastern Europe has experienced, unintentionally, the result of prolonged soil nutrient mining. We report on results from fertilizer trials in Central/Eastern Europe which prove substantial economic increases in yield and quality when balanced fertilization is restored.
We also bring you potash news from around the world and discuss one of the hottest topics in agriculture at the current time - GMOs. With this, and much else besides, we hope you enjoy reading this edition of ifc.