Innovation and Sustainability go Hand in Hand at ICL

Innovations at ICL, such as our CRF fertilizers, help increase yields, while reducing leaching, and so reducing the environmental impact of farming

May 9, 2019
2 mins

Fertilizers are essential in producing enough food for our growing population. This increasing demand for food puts both pressure on agriculture and impacts the environment. How can we increase food production to meet that growing demand? And how can we do this with less agricultural land and less impact on the environment? ICL is working on this every day. Anthony Zanelli, Chair of Meststoffen Nederland (Dutch fertilizer industry sector organization) explained this issue to Het Financieel Dagblad, and emphasized the ICL innovations that offer solutions for this.


Efficient Use of Fertilizers

Nitrogen and potassium are frequently used nutrients in agriculture. Even though these are important fertilizer constituents, a large proportion of the released nutrients are not utilized by the plant. This is why it is essential to optimize mineral fertilizer efficiency for sustainable agricultural production. Land is becoming scarcer in the Netherlands, partly due to house building, and we will need to produce more using less agricultural land. In this case, efficiency means increasing yields while using less land and preferably also less fertilizer, and reducing losses and leaching into the environment.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that nitrogen losses to the environment are considerably lower when using controlled-release fertilizers. Moreover, these kinds of fertilizers are more efficient in use, which also increases yield and quality.

ICL is also focusing on fertigation worldwide. Climate change and the resulting water shortages hinder good crop growth. Fertigation is a technique that uses drip irrigation with crop fertilizer, enabling optimal release to the crop containing a small amount of water combined with vital nutrients, such as potassium and phosphate.


Controlled-Release Fertilizers

Controlled-release fertilizers have a coating that ensures that nutrients are only released when the plant needs them. This gradual process provides the plant with nutrition for up to a year, and fertilizers only need to be applied once instead of four times a year.

Controlled-release fertilizers use up to 40% less fertilizer than conventional fertilizers. Moreover, all nutrients are utilized by the plant, which means there is less leaching of nitrogen and other substances into the environment

Various research studies have also demonstrated that the use of controlled-release fertilizers results in stronger, healthier plants and an equal or even higher yield with lower fertilizer use.


Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Using controlled-release fertilizers reduces the carbon footprint. Research from ICL has demonstrated that the controlled-release fertilizer Agromaster reduces environmental impact. Using Agromaster fertilizer on 10,000 hectares of farmland reduces the carbon footprint by a value equivalent to:

  • 1,496 trips around the globe in an average car
  • Planting 387,664 trees
  • The annual CO2 emissions of 1,108 European citizens


About Anthony Zanelli

Anthony Zanelli is Chair of Meststoffen Nederland and Vice President of ICL Phosphate Commodity Europe, where he is responsible for two fertilizer production locations in Amsterdam and Ludwigshafen (Germany) (800,000 tonnes of NPK per year), and a feed phosphate site in Bandırma, Turkey. Anthony is also responsible for operations at three sites that produce specialty fertilizers (CRF, WS, and liquids) in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Spain. Anthony is an experienced senior director with considerable fertilizer sector experience and has been involved with ICL for over 12 years.