The Urea Nitrogen Story is much bigger than you may think. It is actually an extension of World War Two and the stockpiles of nitrogen for making the millions of explosive munitions used in that dreadful conflict.
When peace returned there was the problem of what to do with all this now unwanted material... an Austrian scientist had the answer and very quickly big business saw an opportunity not to be missed... make it into fertilizer and make heaps of money.
It did not matter that this scientist eventually realised he had made a great mistake that was destructive to farming and bad for the health of everyone... the die was cast and the future of farming on our Planet would change in ways never believed by our forefathers.
Industrial Farming had been invented and would be ruthlessly sold by big business, whatever the cost to our World.
I realise that some will cry 'RUBBISH' and that's OK, but if you are interested in what is happening in the world of farming today, you need to read the whole story....
How many farmers realise that every single kilogram of Urea spread on the paddock releases one hundred kilograms of carbon dioxide, CO2, into our air. It also depletes the soil of vital Carbon, lowering the soils fertility and moisture holding properties ... our soils are suffering and Urea is like a drug, you need to add more and more of that expensive, man-made Nitrogen/Urea each year to get the same result.
The breaking down process of Urea in the soil produces Hydrochloric Acid which means more cost, as now you will have to buy tonnes of Lime to bring the soil back to your preferred PH.
These synthetic Nitrates are very mobile in water and easily leach out into the creeks and rivers causing Algal Blooms, killing fish and depleting oxygen, and eventually flowing to the sea where they adversely affect our marine environments.
This does not happen with nitrogen produced by nature.
The Haber/Bosch process is the process now used to make Urea, this consumes a whopping two percent of the World's energy and emits more CO2 than any other chemical reaction in modern industry... of course this is not the complete story as the accumulative result of everything that is necessary to make all the Urea to supply our World's needs is truly massive. With our planet's population expected to reach 10 Billion by the 2050s our future Urea needs will far outstretch today's production, heaping ever more pollution problems upon mankind and the planet as we know it.
In the production of Urea, CO2 (carbon dioxide) and N2O (nitrous oxide) are released - we all know CO2 and what it does for Global Warming, but N2O will be a newcomer for most folks. It too is an agent for Global Warming with about 300 times the heat trapping power of carbon dioxide.
Massive Urea Production Plants are found all over our World, yes they are 'massive' - they take huge amounts of power to do the job and are made of thousands of tonnes of steel, which has to be made using Coal and a blast furnace...both these minerals are mined from the earth with massive machinery that is use huge amounts of fuel, cost a fortune and are themselves made of steel, plus massive tyres weighing tons... the companies that do all this and have head offices in skyscrapers in cities worldwide, made again of Steel plus concrete, plastics and glass, they consume electricity day and night and are full of workers driving in down clogged highways worldwide... many mine workers fly in and out or drive sometimes hundreds of kilometres... at every turn the huge cost of producing what is needed to make something as simple as Nitrogen/Urea for growing our food becomes a Co2/Carbon Dioxide/Global Warming/Pollution Disaster of epic proportions and it cannot be justified, not even for Profits/Money or Power... we are truly out of control.
Next we need to include Farming into the equation as it seems Urea is necessary to grow our basic needs in life, our food and farming these days is done on an industrial scale, "Get Big or Get Out" ... often the scale is truly unbelievable, every piece of farm equipment is getting bigger each year and consumes copious amounts of diesel, is made yet again of tons of Steel and technology like GPS, Computers, Drones, Robots that take over more and more... where is it all going, what are we doing to this small blue Planet?
Working the ground with huge ploughs, rotary hoes and rippers after each harvest releases Co2/Carbon into the atmosphere and depletes our soils of vital components like Humus, kills the living biology and reduces our soils to DIRT...OK then this situation has to be propped up by Chemical Fertilizers and backed up with Urea to grow our crops and grass for our livestock and more.
All this yet again is propped up by a dubious, flawed payment system for farm produce, where farmers never really know the price they will get or if they will survive for another year and this must be one of the big reasons for the high 'Farmer Suicide Incidence in Australia' and indeed the World!
Of course all this food, fertilizer and fuel has to be transported often huge distances by massive powerful B-Doubles and Semis to cities from one end of Australia to the other, consuming fuel and again producing CO2 gas.
At every turn the picture painted becomes worse and to think it all began with UREA... a simple, very small colourless ball of solidified gas taken from our air. And to think all these desperate industrial measures are carried out to do something that nature succeeded doing very successfully for millions of years right there in the soil, without all that complication and use of our non-renewable energies and minerals... but it is now becoming very obvious that this Earth cannot take many more of us stretching its resources.
The Big Chemical companies tell us that Nitrogen is the answer to growing food but it would seem after looking at all the problems of its production, transport, energy and pollution, we should be looking at a more natural and less intensive way to make our existence here better and less destructive.
It is proven that food grown with simple compost produces more and better food crops than using chemical fertilizers and this results in healthier people and animals plus more money in the bank... less nitrogen use is linked to less disease and insect damage, more nutritious food and happier more successful people.
Over many millions of years our important trace elements have washed from the land to the seas leaving our soils in many cases devoid of important minerals that help us live, work and make sense of everything.
Our blood is very similar to the sea, salty with minerals. Our gut is very much like good soil or compost, packed with microbes. 30% of our blood goes to our brain, 30% of the sap in plants goes to its roots... we are all made from this Earth - we are a product of completely natural processes.
The sea is our mother and seaweed is 'The Key' to the future for farming because of its complexity which is unlike anything else, it has answers for us all and especially in growing good nutritious food, improving our soil fertility and physically making Natural Nitrogen on exactly the spot where it is needed, within the soil ... no huge polluting factory plants, no transporting heavy fertilizer great distances, no leeching of pollutants into our valuable fresh water reserves and far less CO2 pollution, less plastic, less Synthetic Poisons needed on farm, less cost to the farmer and less worry too.
It is said our farm soils have generations of Phosphorus stuck in our soils ready to be unlocked and used by our crops, enough Phosphate to literally mine the family farm... simply increase soil fertility and tell the truth about how exactly plants feed and grow and forget the Haber/Bosch Process with all its faults, horrific costs and pollution... we do not need Urea.
We at Seaweed Enterprises Australia can help you get out of the Urea Trap. You can change over with the use of our Seaperia Seaweed - it's a pure, natural gift from Mother Nature, one of her small miracles. It will unlock Nitrogen and Phosphorous from your soil and you will never look back as your soils gain more and more fertility each year.
Blog Post by Grahame.
Top photo - Qatar Fertiliser Company Mesaieed Plant, the largest single site producer of ammonia and urea in the world. It produces around 5.6 million tonnes annually.