About 75% of fertilizers and fertilizer technology used around the world today were developed or improved during the 1950s to 1970s by scientists and engineers at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the United States, says John Shields, a former TVA official. Shields is now Interim Director of IFDC, An International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development, based in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
"An investment of $41 million in fertilizer research through 1981 returned an incredible $57 billion to U.S. agriculture," Shields says. "That doesn't include benefits of the technology to the rest of the world."
But inadequate public funding caused closure of the TVA fertilizer research program in the early 1990s. Today, publicly funded fertilizer research and development has essentially ceasedand so has the flow of new and more efficient fertilizers and fertilizer manufacturing technologies.
Dr. Amit Roy, IFDC President and CEO, says, "TVA's fertilizer program is recognized as one of the most effective research and development programs of any U.S. agency. Its benefits to the world far outweigh the public investment that the United States made in fertilizer research and development.
"It's time to launch a radical initiative to develop a new generation of energy-efficient fertilizers to help avert hunger and famine."
TVA developed high-analysis fertilizers with high nutrient content as well as more efficient manufacturing processes. The fertilizers include urea, diammonium phosphate (DAP), triple superphosphate (TSP), sulfur-coated urea, and liquid fertilizers. TVA improved the manufacturing processes for ammonium nitrate and other products that help commercial producers provide efficient fertilizers to farmers worldwide. TVA's ammonium-granulation and bulk-blending technologies improve the efficiency of the manufacture of many mixed fertilizer grades. TVA generated most of the
|Contact: Dr. Thomas Hargrove|