Plant fertilization and food security
Fertilizers are indispensable in agriculture. Without supplementary nutrients, the yield of plants is insufficient for feeding the world's population. Moreover, arable land is scarce and must therefore be utilized as efficiently as possible. K+S is continuously striving to optimize the use of fertilizers - by providing the best product quality and specialized applications, as well as by advising farmers with our extensive know-how.
Even before the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, global food supplies were under pressure. Production losses due to extreme weather conditions such as heat, drought, or hurricanes, disrupted supply chains as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as high energy costs caused food prices to skyrocket. Fertilizers have already been in short supply for some time, and prices have risen accordingly - partly as a result of the US and EU sanctions against Belarus.
Since the start of the war, these difficulties have intensified: Grain supplies from Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia have been significantly reduced for the time being, or have stopped completely. Sanctions and supply bottlenecks will most probably exacerbating the shortage of fertilizers. All these factors could lead to food shortages.
Crucial nutrient components
Against this background, the German potash industry continues to gain in importance. Potassium (K) is one of three basic fertilizer components alongside nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). It controls the water balance, improves the plant's resistance, and activates numerous enzymes. Nitrogen is essential to the plant for photosynthesis, enzymes, and protein content. Phosphorus, for its part, is a component of many chemical compounds and influences the entire plant metabolism. The three substances are often applied together as so-called NPK fertilizers, also known as compound fertilizers.
Germany is rich in potash. K+S extracts the raw material at various German sites and produces potash-based soil, foliar and irrigation fertilizers from it. At the same time, we are an important supplier for NPK fertilizer manufacturers.
Balanced fertilization is indispensable
K+S also supplies other nutrients, such as magnesium and sulfur as magnesium sulfate. Without magnesium, plants cannot perform photosynthesis. Sulfur improves the efficiency of nitrogen uptake from the soil. In this way, magnesium sulfate indirectly contributes to the fact that less nitrogen needs to be fertilized - and fewer residues can get into the groundwater.
The well-balanced application of the different nutrients is essential for the growth of every plant. If any nutrient component is lacking, the plant will not develop to its full potential. This insight is already 200 years old: In 1828, the agronomist Philipp Carl Sprengel defined the " Law of the Minimum". According to this, a plant that requires different nutrients can only grow optimally if it is provided with all of them in sufficient quantities. The first lacking substance determines the limits of growth. The chemist Justus von Liebig added factors such as heat and light to this principle. The model illustrating this principle is therefore called the "Minimum Barrel " or " Liebig Barrel ": The lowest longitudinal wood of a barrel determines how much liquid the container can hold.
Sharing our know-how
K+S deliberately does not limit itself to providing products, but also focuses on knowledge transfer. With its KALI Akademie®, the Group offers farmers and agricultural traders with comprehensive advice, training, and further education opportunities. This academy provides expert knowledge on all aspects of plant nutrition with information texts and brochures, webinars, technical lectures, as well as video tutorials. This knowledge transfer also contributes to the efficient and sustainable use of fertilizers.
Moreover, K+S is the sponsor of the Institute of Applied Plant Nutrition (IAPN) of the University of Göttingen, which was founded in 2010. The institute conducts research on issues relating to resource efficiency in agriculture. Practical orientation always has a high priority: The research findings are directly incorporated into the product development of K+S and are passed on to farmers via an international network of agronomists.
Avoiding critical dependencies
K+S is therefore more than a simple supplier. We consider ourselves as experts in plant nutrition who share their knowledge and spread it widely. This combination of quality, know-how, and advice contributes to securing the world's food supply, strengthening Europe's economic independence from global political developments, and increasing the security of commodities in the community of states. This approach is particularly important in critical times.
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