Market report – Turf fertilisers
MANY NEW PRODUCTS HAVE HIT THE MARKET ALONG WITH NEW SOURCES OF RAW MATERIALS, SALLY DRURY REPORTS.
Waiting for a new turf fertiliser product to come to market is a bit like waiting for a bus. There is nothing for ages, then a dozen or more come along together. This year, the fertiliser store accessible to turf managers has been swollen by a plethora of product introductions. Even more exciting is the fact that there are new sources of raw material. That could be good for the pocket — it is certainly good in terms of fertiliser security.
Most raw ingredients for fertilisers are imported and a lot of them come from volatile regions in the Middle East or north Africa. Fertilisers are also of interest to speculators. Because of that, as global demand for food increases, prices have gone up.
“Raw materials are an expensive commodity,” says Headland Amenity technical director Mark Hunt. “In 2007-08, we saw a 200 per cent increase, in some cases 300 per cent increase, in the price — and that has led to innovation.”
One of these innovations is Crystal Green. A source of slow-release phosphorus, nitrogen and magnesium, the material is recovered from UK waste water. Although it has been harvested from water for some time in America, most of the phosphorus used in the UK is imported from Africa. But this month sees the first harvesting plant go live in Slough. Five more plants are planned.
“The opportunity to make a resource in the UK is appealing,” says Hunt. “Not only is it recycled but the phosphorus in Crystal Green is released over eight-to-10 months, rather than all in one go.”
At the moment, this new raw material is more expensive — as much as 30 per cent more than imported — but the expectation is that world market prices will continue to increase. Produced in the UK, Crystal Green reduces the reliance on imported materials.
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