The EU is considering accelerating the development of manure-based fertilizers to limit reliance on Russian-made alternatives and the gas needed for domestic production.
The Spanish and Dutch governments are “opening a new focus” on treating manure and using it instead of traditional gas-based products, Spain’s Agriculture Minister Luis Planas said in an interview on Monday. The pilot project was discussed with the other European Union agriculture ministers, who responded “positively”.
The war in Ukraine pushed wholesale fertilizer prices to a multi-year high earlier this year, despite the US exempting Russian sales from sanctions. Rising prices for gas, the main source of nitrogen-rich ammonia fertilizer, have made production more expensive and forced manufacturers to shut down some production.
The disruption in fertilizer supplies is already dampening crop yields in South America, while rising prices are having a particularly severe impact on countries like France, which imports about 70% of its needs, Planas said.
‘Developing biological alternatives to traditional fertilizers would drastically reduce gas consumption and give Europe an element to promote its food self-sufficiency,’ he said. “In that respect, they are our number one priority.”
Global prices are likely to remain elevated this year and next as the war in Ukraine fuels uncertainty over Russian fertilizer supplies and it may take up to five years for production to ramp up, the US Department of Agriculture said.
Manure-based products are “very important” for both Spain and the Netherlands, Planas said, adding that current advances in research and development would need to be followed by a change in EU regulations. Still, setting up the mechanisms to treat different types of manure could take about five years, he said.
While manure is a cheaper alternative to expensive synthetic fertilizers, it is less effective than traditional products. For example, fertilizer diammonium phosphate contains six times as much nitrogen and 15 times as much phosphate as liquid manure per tonne.
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/agri-business/eu/europe-may-turn-to-manure-in-switch-away-from-russian-fertiliser-41886639.html Europe could turn to fertilizer to turn away from Russian fertilizer