The use of crops to produce bio-fuels is adding to fertilizer demand.
Bio-fuels are substitutes for petrol and diesel made from plants. High oil prices and a desire for greater energy self sufficiency has resulted in several countries encouraging the development and uptake of bio-fuels through policy. Whilst total fertilizer use on bio-fuel crops is relatively small, it is new high intensity demand and additional to the strong growth in fertilizer demand for traditional food and fibre crops.
In 2011 the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) estimated that 3.6% of fertilizer demand was due to bio-fuel crops. (www.fertilizer.org)
The following graphs show that whilst the total volume of biofuels has risen since 2011, the percentage of total crop production used for biofuels has been relatively stable.
Demand for biofuels is largely driven by a combination of mandated or subsidized usage and overall transport demand in countries with mandates. A proposal by China to mandate E10 (10% ethanol inclusion) fuel has been implemented on a trial basis, if it were to be adopted nationally it would have a significant effect on demand.