Improving Sustainability in Agriculture with eqo.x

ICL's eqo.x CRF release technology creates the perfect fertilizers to improve farm sustainability.

April 18, 2023
3 mins

Walk into any town or city and ask what a farmer does, and you will most likely get the answer, “They grow food.” And historically, that may have been the case, but any farmer will tell you there is much more to it now. With our increased understanding of the impact human activities have on the environment, we all need to be more aware of the repercussions of our decisions on the wider environment.

With the growing global population, one of the challenges farms face is increasing crop yields and quality while protecting the environment. Crops need nutrients to produce high-quality, abundant crop yields. Plants take up many of these nutrients from the soil, but repeated harvests will deplete the available nutrients.

Importance of Fertilizers

Applying fertilizers replenishes the nutrients in the soil and ensures future crops have access to the nutrients they need. Using fertilizers is crucial for sustainable land use. But this comes at a cost. As well as the financial cost of the fertilizers and the fuel used to apply them in the field, there is also an environmental cost.

There is good news, however. Growing evidence suggests that embracing sustainable growing methods is better for the planet and for farm profitability.

Benefits of Sustainability

We can look at ICL’s innovative new eqo.x release technology, found in our Agrocote and Agromaster products, to demonstrate this point. ICL’s eqo.x is a controlled release fertilizer coating for open-field agriculture. The eqo.x release technology delivers the same high performance our customers have come to expect from our existing CRF fertilizer coatings, but with the added advantage that once the nutrients are released, the fertilizer coating will rapidly and fully biodegrade.

So how can choosing eqo.x help with sustainability? First, we need to understand what an eqo.x CRF fertilizer is. CRFs are coated fertilizers. A special coating encloses each granule of nutrients, controlling the rate, pattern, and timing of the nutrient release. While the technology is innovative, the basic principle is straightforward:

  • water from the soil penetrates the coating,
  • the nutrients start to dissolve, then
  • the nutrients are released through the CRF system ready for the plants.

Graphic explaining how ICL's eqo.x controlled release fertilizer (CRF) coating works

The differentiating feature of CRF fertilizers is that the coating controls the rate of nutrient release according to the soil temperature. At lower soil temperatures, crop growth is slower, reducing the nutrient needs of the plants, so the CRF slows down the release of nutrients. In warmer conditions, the CRF increases the rate of nutrient release, matching the plants’ higher demands for nutrients.

Nutrients Delivered to Match the Crop Requirements

The modified release rate ensures plants get the correct nutrients at the right time, improving crop yield and quality. Unlike conventional fertilizers, where nutrients may leach into the soil beyond the reach of plant roots, with eqo.x release technology CRF fertilizers, plants take up a higher proportion of the nutrients applied. In practical terms, this can mean that a single application of an eqo.x controlled release fertilizer can supply a crop with the nutrients it requires throughout the growing season. Conventional fertilizers may require multiple applications to ensure the same nutrient availability throughout the growing season.

Sustainability Benefits from  eqo.x

So CRF fertilizers with eqo.x release technology, such as Agrocote and Agromaster, can improve crop yield and quality and improve the sustainability of farming by:

  1. improving nutrient use efficiency (NUE) by up to 80% thanks to the temperature-controlled nutrient release
  2. reducing the environmental impact by reducing nutrient losses by up to 50%
  3. delivering higher or similar yields with lower fertilizer application rates
  4. reducing the number of fertilizer applications required, thanks to the coating managing the timing of delivery, rather than having to rely on multiple passes through the field, reducing time and fuel consumption
  5. providing consistent, predictable nutrient delivery throughout the growing season

With these benefits, it is clear that CRFs are an excellent mechanism for growers to improve sustainability. But the eqo.x release technology has one more trick to play. The coating quickly biodegrades, leaving no residues in the soil.



Meeting Upcoming Legislation

ICL’s eqo.x release technology is an excellent tool for farmers looking to improve their sustainability. Amongst the goals set by the European Farm to Fork Strategy and the EU Soil Strategy for 2030 are a reduction in nutrient losses by a minimum of 50% by 2030 and the implementation of biodegradability requirements for CRF coatings. Our eqo.x controlled release fertilizers deliver improved nutrient use efficiency to reduce nutrient losses and improve yield and quality, and they quickly and fully biodegrade once the nutrients are released, leaving no residues in the soil.

For growers looking to improve yield, reduce fertilizer application and improve their sustainability, our eqo.x. release technology controlled release fertilizers are an excellent choice.