Agricultural production is generally seen as a source of raw materials, not as a user of them. This perception is partly true, but anybody who has tried planting a small garden knows a lot more goes into agriculture than seed, soil, and water. The United States is a net exporter of food, being the world’s largest producer of maise (392 million tons in 2018). Large scale commercial farming requires fertilisers, pesticides, erosion control measures, and feed for livestock. Manufacturing all these uses agricultural raw materials, which Bisley supplies.
Fertilisers and Trace Elements
Synthetic fertilisers mainly use nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Although nitrogen comprises 78% of the planet’s atmosphere, it must still be delivered to the plants in a form that they can use and in the correct quantities. Natural gas is used to combine with nitrogen in the air to form anhydrous ammonia. This can be applied directly to crops or used as a base to manufacture other nitrogen-based fertilisers.
Phosphorus is mined in countries like the United States and China. The raw material is combined with other chemicals to produce phosphate-based fertilisers. Potassium is also used in fertilisers such as potassium nitrate, potassium sulphate, and potassium chloride.
Trace elements that we supply for fertilisers include calcium, sulphur, and magnesium. Micronutrients such as boron, copper oxysulfate, iron, and zinc also need to be added to the mix in smaller quantities.
Nurseries and farmers use growing media to nurture young plants. Doing this ensures that they have the physical and nutritional qualities for plant growth. Growing media for greenhouse crops use many organic products like compost or peat. Other growing media use synthetic raw materials. Expanded polystyrene, urea-formaldehyde, and perlite all have a place as growing media.
With intensive stock farming, the need for adequately formulated animal feeds has increased. Cattle, poultry, and pigs all have different requirements, whether you grow them for slaughter or milk production. Copper, zinc, and manganese sulphates all go into animal feed pellets. Manganese oxide is also used.
Inhibitors, Chelates, and Dispersants
Commercial farmers need to minimise the impact that excessive use of synthetic fertilisers can have on the environment. They also need to maximise their fertilisers’ efficiency. Urease inhibitors prevent the volatilisation of nitrogen in fertilisers. High pH soil can result in the loss of up to 50% of the nitrogen in fertilisers to the atmosphere. Dispersants help stabilise the particles, and chelates like calcium gluconate assist with plant uptake of the nutrients.
Soil Erosion and Dust Suppression
Commercial farmers also need to contend with soil erosion and dust during the fallow period. Lignosulfonates help to stabilise the soil and suppress dust. Stabilising the soil helps prevent the loss of valuable topsoil through erosion.
There’s a need for raw materials in the age of intensive and extensive scale commercial farming, like any other industry. We use these raw materials in the prevention of soil erosion and animal and plant feed.