"TVA technology fueled the sweeping advances of U.S. farmers in food and fiber production in the 60s to 80s," Shields says. "Today, fertilizers are responsible for more than a third of total U.S. crop production.
"The $57 billion return from a $41 million investment included about $49 billion from use of high-analysis fertilizers and $8 billion from process development and improvement. That's a benefit:cost ratio of more than $20 to $1.
"TVA followed promising new fertilizers from conception to production to national acceptance by farmers and the fertilizer industry," Shields recalls. "Its program was based on fundamental research, followed by process development and technology transfer."
After agronomic tests and pilot plant production proved that a new TVA fertilizer product or manufacturing process performed well, TVA produced enough tonnage to introduce it into U.S. agriculture. "TVA then stopped work on that project and moved to develop newer and more promising technologies," Shields says.
Calls for New Fertilizer Research
Dr. Norman Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Laureate, says, "I am concerned about the state of the fertilizer industry itself. With the price of energy increasing, we need to find cheaper, more effective ways to nourish food crops. The price tag for increasing productivity in Africa will be quite high. The fertilizer industry needs to do everything in its power to minimize that cost. Farmers are paying way too much for fertilizer products because we are transporting millions of tons of material that is not nutrient and because much of the nutrients in applied fertilizers are never used by the crop. Nutrient losses to the environment are high with consequences for global warming and water pollution.
"Work should begin now on the next generation of fertilizer products using advanced techniques such as n
|Contact: Dr. Thomas Hargrove|