Chemistry » Chemistry and the Real World » The Fertilizer Industry

Advantages and Disadvantages of Inorganic Fertilizers

Advantages and disadvantages of inorganic fertilizers

Advantages

Organic fertilizers generally do not contain high levels of nutrients and might not be suitable to sustain high intensity crop production. Large scale agricultural facilities prefer inorganic fertilizers as they provide a more accurate control over their nutrient supply. Inorganic fertilizers are supplied in a water-soluble form which ensures that they are easily absorbed by plants. Much less inorganic fertilizer can therefore be applied to have the same result as organic fertilizers.

Disadvantages

The two major disadvantages of inorganic fertilizers are that:

  • Inorganic fertilizers must be manufactured industrially. This involves cost in terms of both chemicals and the energy involved in the production. Air pollution is also a result of these industrial processes.

  • Nutrients which are not taken up by plants, will either accumulate in the soil therefore poisoning the soil, or leach into the ground water where they will be washed away and accumulate in water sources like dams or underground rivers. This is discussed in more detail later on.

Optional Video: Challenges of fertilizer production

You might watch the video below to get a sense of the complex process of fertilizer production in an industrial plant.

Fertilizer production is a very energy-intensive process. An optimal plant operation and the efficient use of resources are decisive factors for economic success. Siemens products and in particular the SIMATIC PCS 7 process control system help dealing with the requirements.

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