By Xia Yingbiao, Honorary Chairman of Anhui Chemical Fertilizer Industry Association
China consumes over 50 million tons of chemical fertilizers a year. A dosage increase of chemical fertilizers and great quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus has seriously polluted the environment. Furthermore, exclusive use of inorganic fertilizers has caused soil to lose organic nutrients and trace elements (Organic nutrients and middle/trace elements can greatly help improve the quality of crops).
In China today, the structural contradiction in agriculture is prominent and the supply/demand relationship is changing in new ways. With evident upgrading of farmers’ consumption structure and consumption level, high-quality green farm products are in short supply. China’s society and economy are in an important period of transition. The strategies of the China Dream and a moderately prosperous society face major challenges with regard to energy, natural resources, the environment and the three issues of agriculture, the countryside and farmers. The traditional chemical fertilizer industry urgently needs to speed up the replacement of old growth drivers with new ones, accelerate the transformation of agricultural development modes, create the modern agricultural industrial system, production system and operation system and enhance its benefits to the quality and competitiveness of agriculture.
We should pursue agricultural modernization with Chinese characteristics and ensure both the quantity and quality of agricultural products in a sustainable way. The state has set a goal that “zero growth” in use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides must be attained by 2020. We must therefore speed up “precise” adjustments to the fertilizer structure, promote ecologically sound fertilization of soil and develop new functional fertilizers.
Chemical fertilizers produced in China today can basically meet needs of agricultural production. We also have the ability to export to the international market. The chemical fertilizer industry still tends toward surplus capacity, unduly severe policies, market fluctuation and accelerated transformation.
Further trim capacity
Anhui and the whole nation eliminated some outdated fertilizer capacity (such as urea and compound fertilizers) last year. Demand for urea in China is around 57 million t/a, whereas capacity is around 70 million t/a. China has already attained the goal of “zero growth” in chemical fertilizers, but new urea and compound fertilizer units are still being built. In a time of eliminating outdated capacity, we should also tighten the control on new capacity.
Further optimize structure
We should control the market structure of traditional fertilizers, and actively develop new varieties and new formulations of fertilizers and new modes of agrochemical services. With the large-scale development of modern agriculture, the implementation of the action for “zero application growth” in chemical fertilizers and the popularization of advanced fertilization forms such as formulated fertilization, mechanized fertilization and irrigation fertilization, we should vigorously promote new base fertilizers, super granular fertilizers, water-soluble fertilizers and liquid fertilizers. In the nitrogen fertilizer sector, production and promotion of value-added fertilizers should be unfolded in a big way this year to increase the efficiency of fertilizers, increase agricultural yield and increase farmers’ income. The utilization rate of chemical fertilizers should be improved in earnest. The utilization rate of chemical fertilizers in China is only around 35%, being much lower than the level of 60-70% in advanced European and American countries. It is therefore imperative to increase the efficiency of fertilizers.
Accelerate replacement of old growth drivers with new ones
1. Promote technical progress, make greater efforts and expand channels for technical innovation in enterprises: Dissemination of proven advanced practical technologies should be highlighted. A number of advanced technologies for making ammonia, methanol and ethylene glycol – such as large-scale coal gasification units, ammonia synthesis technology, catalysts and large key equipment – should be vigorously developed.
2. Further promote use of intelligent manufacturing systems: Examples include uses in production scheduling, energy management, equipment life cycle management, safety, environmental protection, emergency rescue, quality tracking, e-commerce and logistics.
3. Promote energy conservation and emission reduction: Conscientious implementation should follow new requirements of the state on energy, environmental protection, safety and carbon emission trading (first batch) to conserve energy, reduce emissions, reduce costs and increase efficiency.
4. Pursue green development: Develop cyclic eco-economy, promote green manufacturing, make production cleaner, increase the utilization rate of resources, highlight exchange and cooperation in “One Belt One Road” international industries, vigorously expand domestic and international markets, boost the export and exchange of products, technologies, equipment and intelligence, and establish enterprises overseas.
5. Seek greater breakthroughs in urban-rural composition and development: The 19th CPC National Congress proposed to “implement a strategy of rural vitalization”. The state will target institutions at agriculture, the countryside and farmers in element allocation, capital input, talent cultivation, agrochemical service and policy guidance. For vitalization, rural areas must embrace green development and vigorously develop eco-agriculture. The chemical fertilizer industry should grasp opportunities, further extend agrochemical services and push the economic benefits of the chemical fertilizer industry onto a higher step.