Micronutrients Hit Their Stride
Micronutrients, the oft-ignored little cousin to crop protection’s big three – herbicides, fungicides and insecticides – have, of late, been recognized for the important role they play in yield and plant health.
In fact, when asked which products they intend to launch or develop this year, respondents to FCI’s State of the Industry survey selected micronutrients/fertilizers behind only herbicides, insecticides and fungicides and just ahead of the rapidly growing biologicals segment.
“It is a growing market,” says John Bowen, current director and past chairman of the Micronutrient Manufacturers Association. “Education is helping drive this change. People are looking for ways to increase yields. Micronutrients, when used in a balanced fertility program, have proven to be an agronomic and economical way to help achieve this goal.”
The level of education and adoption around the world varies greatly. Those countries with a greater level of sophistication in their crop protection programs tend to be more likely to use micronutrients as part of their overall agricultural program.
“I have been in the micronutrient business for 25 years and the distributors, dealers and farmers of North America, seemed to always be willing to try different approaches to fertility programs,” says Bowen who is also the co-owner of two micronutrient manufacturing companies, Cameron Chemicals and Advanced Micronutrient Products, where he is vice president of both. “If they embraced a concept regarding the use and application of micronutrients, then that trend tended to move to other ag markets around the globe.”
Even in markets that are well established, there is plenty of room for growth. Simply put there is enormous growth opportunity for micronutrients around the world.
“There are too many countries to try and pinpoint one specifically, but I personally see growth opportunities in Africa, South America and Asia,” Bowen says.
According to Bowen, zinc and boron are the traditional micronutrient movers. But recently, other nutrients have seen increased interest.
“With commodity prices on the decline, we have seen an increase in manganese consumption for 2015,” he says. “Overall, I have seen an increased interest and usage of all micronutrients and secondary nutrients (magnesium, calcium and sulfur) over the last several years.”
To tap those emerging markets requires educating growers, and all parts of the industry play a role. There is also plenty of ongoing research that continues to tout the benefits of micronutrients. Bowen says. “The economics of using the micronutrients and the potential ROI is also driving the interest of using micronutrients in a fertility program.”
For Bowen, it’s a very practical matter.
“Without growers knowing the impact that micronutrients can have, we would not be in business, so continuing to educate growers on the benefits of micronutrients is also important,”