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Light has thrown on the secret! – It is done better in the West

2015. May. 20. 14:38

In comparison with the Western-European countries performing production similar to Hungary the inland use of fertilizer is significantly lower, however, which rather gives reason for concern that while 50 percent of the used active substances is nitrogen to the west from us, the other half is phosphor-potash, nitrogen totals up to 80 percent of 80 kg/hectare used in Hungary.

The problem is meant thereby that the latter is the nutrient that is taken up by the plant on the long run, and with which the state of our soils could be sustainable. While the inland soils are in relatively good condition regarding the international comparison it is a warning sign that the average yields relatively has not increased for the last 15 years in spite of the explosion-like development of the plant production technologies. It is attributable to the deterioration of the soil state besides the changes in the weather, states Péter Simon, the managing director of Fertilia Kft.
What does Fertilia deal with? Which are their main products, technologies?

Fertilia has dealt with the manufacture and distribution of fertilizer for almost 25 years. We performed only a commercial activity until 2005, we decided on development of our own products later. At that time we experienced that the traditional fertilizers, which were poured out in a quantity of millions of tons by the factories, did not provide the best solution for the plants and the soil professionally. It meant one of the major motivations in addition to the fact that, of course, the own products mean greater embedding into the market.

We started producing our Gramix NPK fertilizer in 2005, from which we manufactured the 250 thousandth ton last autumn. Besides the plant-specific members of the product line we focus on the customizable compositions, that is, we individually compile the optimal composition of active substances by taking the conditions of the lands, the nutrient needs of the produced plants and the expected yield level into consideration. For this a very serious team of consultants, and, in the other side, the existence of a new kind of approach is needed from the side of the farmer. All of our products, liquid fertilizers are characterized by an individual solution. We do not encourage the farmers to spend more in order to achieve higher yield, but we try to help them spend the amount that the farmer can spend on this technology the most efficiently and rather on the increase in yield.

UMG (New Microelement Generation) MICRO microgranules date back to a 3-4 years’ past, they can also be considered as a future technology, because a very little quantity, 15-20 kg per hectare, has to be got out from them. Of course, the usual nutrients of large quantity cannot be replaced with the microgranules, but they supplement them extremely well. This technology has become essential in the plant production by now, and I see a huge potential in them. So far there have been very few solutions, by which we can place any product directly into the environment of the seed, and the developments must go into this direction. We have also own development ideas: we work on such preparations, with which we can get out not only a nutrient, but also other – e.g. fungicidal agents, insecticides – at the same time.

In Hungary the quantity of the fertilizer applied per hectare is about 70-80 kg/active substance. It significantly falls behind the Western-European average, which is around 180-220 kg/active substance per hectare. Can you see any possibility of catching up? 

In comparison with the countries performing similar production to our country – e.g. Germany, Italy and France – the use of fertilizer is significantly lower in Hungary. Rather it gives a reason for concern that while in Western-Europe nitrogen is about 50 percent of the active substances used and the other half is phosphor-potash, in Hungary about 80 percent of 80 kg/active substance/hectare used is nitrogen, and 20 percent is phosphor-potash, which almost comes to zero. I see the main problem in that. That is, the latter is that type of fertilizer, which is taken up by the plant in the long run, besides it has a very important role in sustaining the soil structure. I often refer to the professor of soil science, Pál Stefanovits’s sentence, which is the tenth one from ten points of soil protection. It says: “You do not only stand on the soil, but you also live on it”. The soil must not be “robbed”, because the plant takes up the nutriment from the soil, it is the basis of everything.
Thus, the inland practice results in that our use of nitrogen fertilizer roughly reaches the Western-European level, but the use of the other two macro-elements, phosphor and potassium, should be increased by any means. Besides, there are also the bacterium fertilizers, which also greatly contribute to the healthy soil life. If there were not micro-organisms in the soil, we could speak about only a pile of loess or sand, which is almost lifeless. The life is meant by the life and operation of the micro-organisms in it.
This principle was rediscovered in these days. According to our principles, at the same time, instead of getting out a foreign bacterium it is more efficient to improve the life conditions of the micro-organisms living in the given soil, thereby helping their reproduction, the increased metabolism and building-in of the nutrient, and improvement, sustainability of the soil structure. We bring these considerations into prominence when producing our fertilizers. The effect of our soil activator called Rizodyne was tested at Szent István University in Gödöllő, and 440 times as much micro-organic effect was measured compared to the control. It is a very high number; I was also surprised at it.

The need for innovation is constant in all fields of agriculture, besides the improvement of efficiency the manufacturers must respond to new kinds of challenges. We can mention the change of climate at the first place. What are the technological trends of fertilizer manufacture at a global level? How can you connect to these trends?

The above-mentioned philosophy represents the cutting edge of development; our own preparations comply with these trends. This philosophy appears in our Gramix NPK product, as well as in its premium version, in the Rizotec NPK line, as well as there is such an active substance in the micro-granulates as well, which supports the healthy soil life.
The technology represents a very important development tendency, which aims at regulation of the duration of the effect of nitrogen, that is, it allows gradual dissolution of the nitrogen. It means a permanent problem that the nitrogen, besides it fast dissolves, gets into the drinking water with the groundwater. These developments also serve the environment protection besides the improvement of efficiency.
In connection of the climate change the drought means the greatest problem. Our developments lead in this respect as well; quite a few of our products contain water-absorbing minerals. A stock of corn probably cannot survive a two months’ drought in a green state easily in this way either, but it may get an extra week, and it may mean either tons in a hectare. We can here mention the micro-starters or the normal starters, which ensure increased growth stamina for the plant right at that time, when it needs for it the most, when it is the most vulnerable. The active substances of the micro-granules must be imagined as the mother’s milk in the man’s life. When the plant is the smallest and needs for the most intensive feeding, it is the optimal nutrient. We may achieve a spectacular extra yield, but the main point is that we can lead through the culture with much greater safety in this vulnerable section, the plant will be much stronger and more tolerant to stress. It has to be imagined as insurance. The insurance is good when it is not needed.

Serious rearrangement takes place in the inland fertilizer market. Nitrogénművek in Pét started large developments, by which it significantly increases its production capacity, while by purchasing the input branch of IKR the Duslo fertilizers manufactured by Agrofert Group gain a larger space in the Hungarian market. What effects may this rearrangement have on the inland market, and how does it affect Fertilia?

Besides the two mentioned companies we must not forget that there is a Hungarian company, which holds 40-50 percent of the input trade in its hand. Practically, the fight of these three mammoths takes place in the country, and where the mammoths dance, it is not good to be grass.
However, all these three companies – particularly the factory in Pét – distribute traditional fertilizers. The Pét salt has been manufactured in the same way since 1923 as now; it will be the type of fertilizer used in the largest quantity in this form probably for long centuries. At the same time the fertilizers distributed by us are not mass products; we rather concentrate on partial markets with innovative preparations, where the development has a serious space.

Do you produce for the export market?

Yes, we have also exported for some years, mainly to Romania and Slovakia. This means nearly 10 percent of our production, and what particularly gives reasons for delight is that our more demanding products of premium quality are exported.

The basis of plant production is healthy soil.  What conditions are the Hungarian soils in?

In respect of an international comparison the state of the Hungarian soils is luckily not so bad, but if we examine the formation of the humus content from the 1970s, it seems that, unfortunately, we are not exceptions from the main trend either. In the USA – where the humus content of the soils decreases to about 60 percent – we can almost speak about a catastrophic state. In Europe it is of a much slighter extent, but the trend, unfortunately, points downwards here as well.
Hungary is poor in resources, but we are well supplied with arable land, thank goodness, and this our most valuable means of production. It has been so for time immemorial and it will be the same way if we do not destroy it. At the same time it is a warning sign that the development of the inland agricultural production can be questioned at a point: in the 10-15 years preceding the transformation of system very intensive use of fertilizers took place – maybe we fell over the horse’s back -, and the average yields increased. However, with the transformation of the system a change in the trend also took place, and the use of fertilizers dropped almost to zero. Since then we have gradually climbed back to the previous levels – we are not at the level of about 80 kg/hectare -, meanwhile other plant production technologies – machines, seeds, chemicals – developed at a very fast rate, and today they carry much greater potential in them than 30 years ago. However, it has to be seen that the inland average yields did not increase properly. Besides the weather change it is also attributable to the soil condition. I think we should change our long-term way of thinking about the soils.