Reporting on the State of the Fertilizer Industry
The Fertilizer Institute has collected data going back to 2013 on metrics that provide insight into the industry’s efforts to improve safety, security, sustainability, stewardship, and efficiency.
As an industry that plays a vital role in maintaining a safe and affordable food supply, we must keep earning the public’s trust by functioning sustainably and ensuring that our products are produced and used with care for communities, their economies, and the environment. TFI’s reporting efforts gather and aggregate quantitative measures of industry sustainability.
The data presented below was gathered in 2020 and reflects industry operations in 2019. Past reports can be found in the archive.
People and communities are the top priority, and the industry invests heavily in worker and community safety. In 2019, industry safety performance among participating TFI member companies was the lowest it has been for recordable incidents aggregated across all participating companies.
The numbers don’t lie. According to data from the Department of Labor, the fertilizer industry is twice as safe as our industry peers.
- Recordable rate: number of work-related injuries per 100 full-time workers during a one-year period
- Lost time incident rate: number of incidents that result in time away from work
Greenhouse Gas Reduction
Minimizing greenhouse gas emissions is a priority for companies in the fertilizer industry. High purity carbon dioxide (CO2) is a byproduct of ammonia production, but the industry captures it and reuses it in the production of downstream nitrogen fertilizers. Captured CO2 is also sold as a byproduct for other industrial uses, such as enhanced oil recovery, the carbonization of soft drinks, and the production of diesel exhaust fluid, which helps reduce nitrous oxide emissions of heavy-duty trucks by up to 90 percent.
The production of fertilizer requires energy, either in the form of natural gas or other fuels, electricity, or steam. To reduce their energy footprint, fertilizer manufacturers cogenerate energy or use other low-impact energy sources, such as solar or steam from waste heat.
Sustainable water use is a key element in the industry’s conservation efforts as water is a significant resource in the production of fertilizer. Many fertilizer manufacturers have set water efficiency and zero-discharge goals for their operations. Overall water use efficiency per ton of fertilizer produced has improved each year since 2013. Most of this efficiency occurs in nitrogen production, with a 53 percent decline in water used per ton of fertilizer produced.
Agronomic professionals are an essential link in the fertilizer supply chain, being a trusted source of information for farmers when making fertilizer decisions. Agronomists are key to ag retailers providing valuable services that help farmers implement 4R-based nutrient management plans and adopt precision agriculture technologies.
Enhanced efficiency fertilizers (EEFs) are one of the tools farmers can use to improve nutrient uptake by the plant and reduce losses to the environment when used as part of a 4R Nutrient Stewardship management plan. They work by either slowing the release of nutrients for absorption or alter the conversion of nutrients to other forms that may be less susceptible to losses. There is continued need for outreach and technical assistance about the benefits of EEFs in the field.