European Commission addresses fertiliser shortages

The European Commission addressed the food security issues caused by severe mineral fertiliser shortages.

The Commission’s communication, released on 9 November, lists potential means to overcome short term challenges posed by the supply line disruptions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as deals with long term issues regarding the sustainability of fertilisers, and the resilience of the food chain. On these matters, the recent set of actions overlap with the Farm to Fork strategy. Amongst the proposed actions, practices for fertiliser use optimisation and usage reduction, as well as financial support actions targeted at vulnerable areas can be found. An important part of the optimisation process is the focus on sustainable farming, sustainable fertiliser production (such as using biomethane or green hydrogen for ammonia production instead of relying on nitrogen) and on substituting mineral fertilisers with organic ones.

The European Chemical Society (EuChemS) continues to investigate sustainable fertilising processes and food production from scientific and policy perspectives, as numerous materials that concern food production are classified as rare ones. In April, EuChemS held a workshop on the element of nitrogen, and on potential means of sustainable ammonia production and use, ranging from precision agriculture using drones to using anammox bacteria to nitrogen removal from wastewater. In 2023, another agriculture related workshop is scheduled to be held, focusing on the element of Phosphorus. In the Commission’s paper, it is highlighted that the European fertiliser industry is dependent on phosphate imports – therefore its crucial for the long-term resilience of the Union.

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