Nourishing Soils, Nourishing People

HungerA relatively thin blanket of soil provides the basis for plant growth that helps feed and clothe a hungry and growing world population. Increasingly, soil is being viewed as a valuable resource that merits special care.

As plants grow, they take up nutrients from the soil. Just as we take food out of the pantry or the refrigerator when we eat, plants pull their food from the soil.  As the refrigerator needs to be re-stocked with nutritious food, nutrients in the soil must be replenished after crops have been harvested. Usually, soil nutrients do build naturally over time in most areas, but often they build slowly and are not immediately available for crop nutrition.  That’s where the nutrients from fertilizers play an essential role, ensuring each season’s crops have the nutrients necessary to yield nutritious food.

Feeding a Growing World

How does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Quite simply, with nutrients from soil that has been nourished by fertilizers. Because food production depletes soil nutrient supplies, farmers rely on fertilizers to keep their soils productive. In this way, the fertilizer industry helps nourish soils that in turn, nourish people.  

Because grains like corn, rice, oats and wheat sorghum millet are critical to feed a growing world, increasing their production is one of the most important roles fertilizer plays in world agriculture. World grain production increased from an average of 0.6 tons per harvested acre in 1965 to more than 1.3 tons per harvested acre in 1990. However, the challenge of feeding the world continues, as these dramatic increases in grain production have not kept pace with the world’s growing population and higher standards of living. While world grain harvests from 2004-2007 were the largest on record at over two billion tons each, the world still consumed more grain than it produced, and the ratio of stocks to use declined from 20 percent to 15 percent.