Sustainability can be defined in many ways but in general terms, it is all about managing today’s requirements without impacting on the ability to meet tomorrow’s needs. It can also be split into three dimensions: economic, environmental, and social. The first two of these, economic and environmental, are very clearly linked to YaraMila fertilisers. Considering the economic dimension, or sometimes referred to as ‘profit’, then this is very relevant to farm profitability. In 2020 wheat trials, YaraMila Extragrass increased yield by 173% taking a crop from 7.26 t/ha to 12.6 t/ha. This profitability improvement equates to £704/ha. The YaraMila brand helps identify that each granule supplies some P and K as well as N and S. The P and K element improved profitability by £67/ha in this trial. The extra revenue achieved through investing in YaraMila comes from the targeted application to meet the crops demand, alongside the accurate, even spread of nutrient that is achieved at the point of application.
Naturally, it is important that this ‘profitability’ doesn’t come at the expense of the environment. An environmental measure that can be used towards improved sustainability is resource efficiency. An example here is Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) which in arable crops can be targeted at 80%. When this is calculated for the YaraMila applications described above, then the NUE% was improved by 4% at the optimum nitrogen rate. Achieving the optimum nitrogen rate is also key for sustainability, thus reducing losses in the nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen management tools such as the N-Tester and N-Sensor can be used to determine application rates.
Another consideration regarding environmental sustainability are the N2O emissions during fertiliser production. Yara was instrumental in the development of the ‘abatement’ technology that removes over 90% of the N2O emissions that occur during the nitric acid production stage of manufacture, significantly reducing the carbon footprint.
The third pillar of sustainability is the societal component that a product can deliver. Food security and reduced poverty are clearly humankind gains associated with fertiliser. It has been calculated that mineral fertiliser nourishes 48% of the global population, and has saved 2.7 billion lives over the last hundred years.
As society now looks to mitigate ‘climate change’, further reductions in carbon footprints need to be made if ‘net zero’ targets are to be achieved. Yara is investing in a number of innovations, including ‘green ammonia’ that will ‘decarbonise’ fertiliser further adding to its current sustainability profile.