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    • The primary sources for the hydrogen used in ammonia manufacture today are natural gas and coal
    • The discovery of ammonia synthesis by Fritz Haber and subsequent commercialization by Carl Bosch in 1910 freed the human race of the need to worry about a source of nitrogen fertilizer for a century

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    • The inherent fertility of soil used to be an important factor in food production. Now it’s more or less irrelevant. Modern industrial agriculture now depends on the use of high inputs of nonrenewable resources, particularly oil, gas and fertilizer raw materials, to keep crops growing. Our future is so heavily mortgaged to the exploitation of such agricultural inputs that we have overshot the ability of the planet to support us in a sustainable way. The World Wildlife Fund estimates the overshoot at about 25 percent. In other words, modern society is living off global principal. Anybody with a bank account knows that living off principal rather than just the interest is an unsustainable option.
      • Anthrobleme:a scar on the earth caused by mankind's activities

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    • Pakistan’s two large reservoirs, Mangla and Tarbela, which store Indus River water for the country’s vast irrigation network, are losing roughly 1 percent of their storage capacity each year as they fill with silt from deforested watersheds.
    • Ethiopia, a mountainous country with highly erodible soils, is losing close to 2 billion tons of topsoil a year, washed away by rain.

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    • The world is losing soil 10 to 20 times faster than it is replenishing it. At the same time, population is growing exponentially – 9.3 billion by 2050, according to UN projections.
    • It takes tens of thousands of years to make 15 centimeters of topsoil, about 6 inches' worth.

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    • Blame Peak Oil. Not only is demand for fertilizer up, but it is made from natural gas, which has increased in cost along with oil. Five percent of the world's natural gas is used in making it
    • Blame Meat. In the United States almost half of the fertilizer is used for feed or pasture. As demand for meat grows with Asia's exploding middle class, more fertilizer is needed per calorie of food delivered, since meat is such an inefficient way of delivering calories.
    • “Fertilizer is good for the father and bad for the sons.”
      —Dutch saying
    • the net effect of synthetic nitrogen use is to reduce soil's organic matter content. Why? Because, they posit, nitrogen fertilizer stimulates soil microbes, which feast on organic matter. Over time, the impact of this enhanced microbial appetite outweighs the benefits of more crop residues

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  • Feb 22, 10

    Yields are the driving force of modern agriculture. Whether a farmer is growing corn to feed his dairy cows or someone else’s, he gets paid by the ton. If he can apply a little extra of something that is cheap or free (fertilizer or manure) in order to ensure a high yield, that’s a no-brainer.But...

  • May 14, 13

    Earth as battery; cradle to grave energy production and transfer

    • Several hundred scientists from across the globe will gather in Ludwigshafen, Germany, next week to discuss a simple topic: "A hundred years of the synthesis of ammonia." As titles go, it is scarcely a grabber. Yet the subject could hardly be of greater importance, for the gathering on 11 November will focus on the centenary of an industrial process that has transformed our planet and threatens to bring even greater, more dramatic changes over the next 100 years.
    • by churning out ammonia in industrial quantities for the first time, triggering a green revolution. Several billion people are alive today only because Haber found a way to turn atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia fertiliser. "Bread from air," ran the slogan that advertised his work at the time.

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    • "Business as usual would mean a huge and simultaneous increase in the need for food, energy and water in the next decades: 60 percent more food, 50 percent more energy and 40 percent more water by 2050," Graziano da Silva said during his remarks.

      FAO estimates point to the need to increase food production by 60 percent by 2050 to feed a population that will top the 9 billion mark.

    • FAO estimates that a third of all soils are degraded, due to erosion, compaction, soil sealing, salinization, soil organic matter and nutrient depletion, acidification, pollution and other processes caused by unsustainable land management practices.

        Unless new approaches are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person will in 2050 be only one-fourth of the level in 1960.

    • “Soil is also the largest pool of organic carbon, which is essential for mitigating and adapting to climate change. In an era of water scarcity, soils are fundamental for its appropriate storage and distribution,” said Mr. Ban, urging all States to pledge to do more to protect this important yet forgotten resource. “A healthy life is not possible without healthy soils,” he declared.
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