TFI Statement on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s August 8, 2019, Status Report

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August 8, 2019

Agriculture is at the frontline of adaptation to climate change. In the last twelve months, the record-breaking flood events and challenging precipitation frequencies in the Midwest challenged farmers and the fertilizer industry to adapt to a dramatically shortened fall field work and spring planting season.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today cautions that land must remain productive to feed a rising world population and highlights the importance of fertilizer application rate and timing to maintain production potential and reduce environmental quality impairment. We believe that the efficiency of fertilizer use is central to the goal of successful adaptation to changes in environmental conditions. 

The fertilizer industry is committed to the sustainable use of its products using the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework (use of the right fertilizer source, at the right rate, the right time, and in the right place). This science-based, site-specific approach is contributing to incredible progress in minimizing the impact of fertilizer use has on our nation’s air and water resources. Since 1980, U.S. farmers have more than doubled corn production using just 6.9 percent more fertilizer. Considering that emissions from agricultural operations have been relatively flat since 1990, this is tremendous progress.

Still, there is much more work to be done. Science-based decision making should be the foundation for the adoption of climate smart technologies and practices for sustainable agriculture and global food production. The 4R Research Fund, which is supported by the fertilizer industry and other key stakeholders supports integral research and provides information to help farmers maintain the cycle of continuous improvement.

Beyond farm fields, minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is also a priority for companies that produce fertilizer. The industry captures CO2 emitted during ammonia production and re-uses it during the production of urea, another nitrogen fertilizer. Excess CO2 captured from fertilizer production is also recycled for other industrial use, such as enhanced oil recovery and the carbonization of soft drinks.

In 2017, the industry captured and re-used 7.5 million metric tons – which is 24 percent of all GHGs emitted by the industry throughout the year.  This is a dramatic increase compared to 2013, when the industry captured and re-used 9 percent of its GHGs.