Brazil’s Fight to End Its Foreign Fertilizer Addiction

Brazil's Embrapa Solos Brazilian state company Embrapa Solos (Soils), in partnership with the private sector, is developing organic fertilizers based on industrial residues. With this, Brazil may reduce imports of nutrients, which represent almost 75% of the 30 million tons consumed per year.

With regard to potassium, the country currently imports 92% of the volume consumed. "And the tendency is for this total to grow," said researcher José Carlos Polidoro, one of the coordinators of the project.

Roda d'ígua, from Minas Gerais, was the first private company to seek Embrapa interested in creating new products for the Brazilian organic agriculture market, developing its own fertilizers for tropical agriculture, making greater use of nutrients.

Polidoro said that the Embrapa Soils objective is to stimulate national companies that already produce fertilizers through non-technological processes, based simply on composting organic residues, offering technological support for their products to have minimum technical guarantees, making them able to replace imported products.

Initially, Embrapa Soils should make use of residues supplied by Roda d'ígua group as raw material, including residues from the brewery, like barley bagasse, supplied by Ambev, and the waste supplied by the industrial restaurant of carmaker Fiat, to make organic fertilizer. "What we want now is to improve this fertilizer."

According to Polidoro, the product reaches the requirements for certification at the Ministry of Agriculture. "But it cannot yet compete with imported fertilizer, as it has too low levels of nutrients." With this service, the Embrapa is trying to use its technology to place on the market a fertilizer capable of competing with the imported product.

Another positive aspect is protection of the environment through the reuse of residues for the production of fertilizers. To Polidoro, the use of adequate fertilizers is one of the factors necessary for Brazilian organic agriculture to reach high productivity with low environmental impact. "Then, it becomes a professional activity, which should always be sought in agriculture."

Eight researchers worked on the organic fertilizer project, which also uses residues like grass cuttings, charcoal, bio fortification and horse waste. "Besides being a viable alternative to reduce dependence on foreign inputs, it avoids environmental impacts caused by all these residues," said Polidoro.

He pointed out that even imported products must be well used in agriculture. "We cannot throw fertilizers out, nor allow residues like potassium to be turned to garbage dumps, or accumulate in industrial patios. It must all become fertilizer."

To him, companies must start producing competitive organic fertilizer from industrial residues, adding technology. For Brazilian agriculture, it is a question of "national safety", as the country needs agribusiness to maintain the positive commercial balance, said the researcher.

"It is dangerous to depend so much on imports like this, as there are few countries that export these nutrients." The main exporters of potassium are Russia, Canada, China and the United States.

Polidoro said that the only nutrient for fertilizer currently produced in Brazil is phosphate, which is equivalent to 50% of consumption.

In 1993, the country produced 100% of the phosphate it consumed. "There was even excess phosphate, which we exported to Latin America. Now we import half of the phosphate we consume." With great phosphate reserves, Morocco is the main Brazilian supplier of the product.



  • Show Comments (9)

  • João da Silva


    Relax, her father lives in Sao Paulo,[/quote]

    He must have got a fat commission on the Sub deal.

    [quote]not to worry she will come back again (she has been in Brazil many times!).[/quote]

    Hopefully our PF & RF will make her stand through the long waiting lines at the airport like the rest of us, the mortals.

  • Shelly1

    nutrients and Carla Bruni

    Relax, her father lives in Sao Paulo, not to worry she will come back again (she has been in Brazil many times!).

    On the other subject, excess nutrient usage in the Pantanal region is going to cause an ecological disaster for Brazil. Anyone interested in finding about the ecology of swamplands should read about the Everglades. The U.S. sugar industry has pumped so much into the land that, as you may know, the Everglades is slowly dying. Even with the purchase of land, it will take years to clean up and $$$$ from the federal government to create retention ponds for water purification before discharge into the Everglades and the ocean.

    It is a simple matter of ecology and biological balance, excess potassium increases catails, which in turn suffocates the fauna in the area. I just cannot believe the amount of fertilizers used in the region. Surely someone from IBAMA has read The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise by Michael Grunwald!

  • jon

    very pretty, but she better watch out for that rogue wave behind her!!

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Do you think she is shaved ?????
    Or is she Naturally Italian hairy style ? [/quote]

    I don’t know yet, Ch.c. While I am investigating about these important issues at this end, I suggest you do too using your powerful connections in Europe. She is very pretty, though.

    BTW, starting Jan 1st, I may turn into a gossip columnist. 😉 😀 😉

  • ch.c.

    So true Joao
    Do you think she is shaved ?????
    Or is she Naturally Italian hairy style ?

    😉 😉 😉

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Ooops…small confusion ![/quote]

    There will not be any confusion at all after you see the following picture. Relax Bro, it is the year beginning of a New Year and time to “relaxar e gozar”. 😀


  • ch.c.

    Ooops…small confusion !
    Should read Parana obviously, not Para !

  • ch.c.

    Ric “I never saw a Brazilian addicted to foreign fertilizer, but I guess these days anything is possible ”
    The production/consumption/imports stats speak by themselves.
    And this nothing new, regardless you nhever heard of it.

    Prices are by now down in US$ but so is your currency. Meaning your input prices did not went down…in your local currency.
    Better yet, by now your local fuel prices are at about TWICE of what they should be, since from April Petrobras got a price
    hike to US$ 80.- that was not reduced with the ensuing oil decline.

    Last but not least, may be you are not aware of it, but In Mato Grosso they need TWICE the fertilizer rate per hectare than in Para.

    The most funny thing was that at the peak of grains prices, your Mato Grosso grains farmers were barely….PROFITABLE !
    Just unheard elsewhere, be it in Brazil other regions, Argentina, Russia, Australia, Europe or the USA.

    Thus you can think in what state of Losses…they are today.
    They stopped paying their banks interests 3 months ago.
    Tractors/harvesters SEIZURES are…booming !

  • Ric

    Who writes these headlines?

    I never saw a Brazilian addicted to foreign fertilizer, but I guess these days anything is possible.

    Instead of asking for Cascola (contact cement), I always ask the clerk for “aquela cola que a gente cheira no saco plastico” and the clerk always knows just what is meant and asks, “grande ou pequena?”

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