Fertiliser must be produced and applied in a more environmentally friendly way, according to the International Fertiliser Industry Association.

In a white paper published this week (28 July), the IFIA studied the impact of fertiliser use on climate change and outlined a series of guidelines for sustainable production, transport and use.

According to the report, Fertilisers, Climate Change and Enhancing Productivity Sustainably, fertiliser production accounted for just 2-3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, while nitrogen fertilisers contributed to feeding about half the world’s population.

But fertiliser use was predicted to increase as the industry expanded production to meet growing food and energy demands and, according to the report, the industry needed to face up to its environmental responsibilities.

Reducing energy use and emissions in fertiliser production was the main focus of the paper and ammonia production was identified as the largest user, due to direct emissions from natural gas.

But reductions of up to 15% could be achieved if the industry adopted the latest technology and production techniques, the report noted.

Farmers also had a role to play as fertiliser application released 1.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 1% from the production process.

Encouraging farmers to reduce these outputs, the report identified a series of ‘best management practices’ for farmers to implement, including a ‘4R approach’ to fertiliser use – right product applied at the right rate, right time in the right place.