Fertilizer Means Food: Nourishing the Soil to Feed the World


June 19, 2014

In 2013, approximately one of eight people in the world was suffering from chronic hunger and not getting enough food to lead an active life, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. As the world population is predicted to top 9.4 billion by 2050, the world’s food crisis is growing.

To keep people around the world fed and healthy, global production of food will have to increase, and farmers will have to boost crop production in areas already cultivated.

The good news is that fertilizer can help to meet the world’s food challenges head on.

Grains, like corn, rice, oats, wheat and sorghum, are critical to feeding the growing world. Commercial fertilizer plays an important role in maintaining global crop production at current levels, and will be even more crucial as crop yields need to be increased to meet demand. Long-term soil fertility studies from the US and UK show that fertilizer accounts for at least half of the crop yield for grains and cereals.  

As plants grow, they take nutrients from the soil. Though soil nutrients do rebuild naturally over time, they build too slowly and are not immediately available for crop nutrition. That’s where fertilizer helps ensure that each growing season’s crops have the nutrients necessary to yield nutritious, bountiful foods.

Read the International Plant Nutrition Institute’s (IPNI) Food Security and the Role of Fertilizer in Supporting It to learn more about the role fertilizer plays in growing the world’s food. Next week, we will explore fertilizer’s role in increasing nutrition security and improving human health.