Environmental Fallouts of the Overuse of Synthetic Fertilizers Stoke Innovations in the Fertilizer Market, Finds Frost & Sullivan
High prices of cash crops make farmers tilt toward the high-yield synthetic fertilizers
SINGAPORE, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The steady increase of biofuel production, the World Health Organizations recommendation to include animal protein in the diet, and the increased value of cash crops, are enhancing the prospects of synthetic fertilizers and biofertilizers in the Asia Pacific market. Among the two types of fertilizers, synthetic fertilizer holds the largest segment and is more preferred by farmers, as it provides instant crop yields.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.chemicals.frost.com), Analysis of the Asia-Pacific Synthetic Fertilizers and Biofertilizers Market, finds that the market earned revenues of US$4.96 billion in 2012 and estimates this to reach US$7.73 billion in 2019.
While nitrogen-based fertilizers and blends are the fastest growing sub-segments in synthetic fertilizers, ammonium phosphate and nitrogen-phosphate-potash (NPK) blends are gaining momentum due to their multifunctionality. The adverse environmental impacts of synthetic fertilizers are also expected to make biofertilizers an important alternative for plant nutrition. Biofertilizers are preferred for their sustainability and cost efficiency.
"Synthetic and biofertilizers are experiencing substantial growth due to the escalating prices of cash crops which encourage farmers to increase their yield," said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials & Food Research Analyst Gabriela John Swamy. "Further, as Southeast Asia is largely a net importer of crude oil, the rapid exhaustion of fossil fuels is creating an urgent need for alternative fuels such as biofuel. This, in turn, leads to high demand for crops that can be processed into biofuel."
Synthetic fertilizers may provide faster yields than biofertilizers; however, their continuous use can pose risks such as 'fertilizer burn' that can result in crop deaths. Certain soil bacteria such as nitrosomonas can convert the excess nitrogen fertilizer into nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas.
Moreover, the overuse of nitrogen fertilizer has resulted in pesticide resistant aphids. The high solubility of these chemicals can contaminate surface and groundwater; nitrate levels above 10 ppm in groundwater can lead to 'blue baby syndrome'.
Nearly 60 per cent of raw materials for synthetic fertilizers are fossil materials such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. Therefore, the shortage of these raw materials will hike the prices of synthetic fertilizers.
"Biofertilizer manufacturers are taking steps to educate farmers on the hazardous effects of the continuous use of synthetic fertilizers in the soil," noted Swamy. "Evidently, the biofertilizer segment's growth will come at the expense of the synthetic fertilizer segment."
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Analysis of the Asia-Pacific Synthetic Fertilizers and Biofertilizers Market
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