Exploring alternatives for the rising cost of conventional fertilizers

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Fertilizer prices have skyrocketed globally since the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia is one of the large ammonia producers globally. Ammonia is needed to produce nitrogen fertilizers. Some countries dependent on Russia have been moving to mitigate the problems about the price of fertilizers. 

Local production of fertilizers still needs to be fully sustainable to resolve the issue, so farmers have been considering other methods.

Bhupinder Farmaha, a nutrient management specialist at Clemson University, shared that there is an existing problem with the overuse of synthetic fertilizers. Farmers prefer to use an excessive amount of fertilizer than recommended as they are used to this tradition. 

Nitrogen fertilizers the plants do not absorb are released back into the air as a greenhouse gas. Farmers need to cut back on their intensive use of fertilizer to reduce costs and lessen the harmful impact on the environment.

Not all soil has the same nutritional levels. To reduce the use of excess fertilizer, the recommended amount of fertilizer to be used can be determined using a technological approach and soil testing. 

Farmers should also consider a different farming approach. Utilization of cover crops and alternate use of other crops in every cropping season may enhance soil fertility.

Farms with the animal component may use animal manure as compost to create organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers have a synergistic effect when applied alongside synthetic fertilizers. The incorporation of organic fertilizer also improves the quality of the soil.

There is an ongoing search for alternative sources of organic fertilizer since prices have increased and some are not readily accessible.

Biotech companies are looking at seaweed, algae, and fish waste as marine organic fertilizer sources. These have long been used to improve crop yield but have yet to be widely utilized by many farmers.