-More and more farmers in Germany are dependent on fertilizers from Russia. This is one of the surprising findings, those of the Agricultural Industry Association (IVA) announced at its annual press conference. The war started by Russia against Ukraine has therefore driven up gas prices in the EU to such high levels, that the production of the basic material ammonia, which is important for nitrogen fertilizers, was hardly profitable anymore. Last August would have 60 Percentage of ammonia production in the EU, Switzerland, Norway and Great Britain shut down, said IVA spokesman Marco Fleischmann.
Since the EU is dependent on fertilizer imports anyway, the need for imports has increased significantly. According to him, Russia has used the cheap gas as a competitive advantage and has more than quintupled exports to the EU. In the "fertilizing season" 2022/23 the share of Russia in the imports 19 percent. “As a result, Russia has delivered more energy to Germany and the EU via the detour of fertilizers, refined energy", said Fleischman.
This increases the dependence of European food production on countries, from which one actually wanted to become independent. Especially since, according to Fleischmann, production in Russia is also significantly more harmful to the environment than in the EU. Will this development continue?, The association did not want to dare to answer that. In fact, part of the ammonia production in Europe will probably not be ramped up permanently, BASF, for example, has announced that it will end production in Ludwigshafen. However, ammonia is not scarce globally.
The upheavals show once again how dependent industrial food production is on artificial fertilizers. The chemical industry assumes so, that the food needs of 2005 bis 2050 – then with a world population of 10 Billions people – increasing by half. This cannot be done without fertilizer. The target set by the EU Commission as part of the Green Deal, the use of plant protection 2030 to reduce by half, the union refuses.
The goal is not the problem, but the implementation. IVA President Michael Wagner referred to this, that Germany was particularly affected by the planned total ban in sensitive areas - such as nature reserves, because it has designated significantly more such areas than neighboring countries. The German Farmers' Association has therefore warned against a migration of food production.
The planned EU regulation is far from mature and urgently needs to be revised, said Wagner. shouldn't be the goal, reduce the quantity by half, but the risk. The association therefore relies on new biological pesticides and resilient varieties in addition to greater use of precision agriculture.