uploads///NPK Global Consumption Breakdown

Why Should We Focus on NPK Macronutrients?


Jan. 13 2017, Published 8:17 a.m. ET


Previously, we looked at various types of fertilizers. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (or NPK) are the three most important crop nutrients. Their global consumption is expected to reach 186.0 million tons in the 2015–2016 planting season, according to the IFA (International Fertilizer Industry Association).

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Fertilizer composition

The above graph shows how crop nutrient composition has changed over the years, with nitrogen fertilizer gaining significant importance. According to the IFA, about 186.0 million tons of NPK crop nutrients are expected to be consumed in the 2015–2016 planting season.

Nitrogen fertilizers will account for 60.0%, or ~112.0 million tons, and phosphorous fertilizers will account for 23.0%, or ~41.8 million tons. Potassium fertilizers will account for the remaining 17.0%, or ~31.8 million tons. 

Benefit and application

Nitrogen, which helps increase crop size, is used the most among all crop nutrients since it’s often the lacking nutrient. It’s important to apply nitrogen fertilizers annually. CF Industries (CF), Terra Nitrogen (TNH), and CVR Partners (UAN) exclusively produce nitrogen fertilizers.

Phosphorous and potassium fertilizers help improve crop quality, but unlike nitrogen, they don’t need to be applied annually. PotashCorp (POT) and Agrium (AGU) produce all three fertilizers.

The VanEck Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO) invests about a third of its portfolio in agricultural chemical companies.

Next, let’s look at some of the most common NPK fertilizers.


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