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A Century of Synthetic Fertilizer: 1909-2009

Paull, John (2009) A Century of Synthetic Fertilizer: 1909-2009. Journal of Bio-Dynamics Tasmania (94), pp. 16-21.

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This year marks a centenary of the synthetic fertilizer industry. German chemists, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch, in 1909 demonstrated their industrial process for the manufacture of ammonia. The achievement won them accolades including Nobel Prizes. The output of their Haber-Bosch process can be used for either peace or war, agriculture or munitions, and the rapid adoption by Germany of this industrial process is credited with prolonging WW1. Most of the synthetic nitrogenous fertilizer of the past century, and right up to the present, has been manufactured using the Haber-Bosch process. The use of synthetic fertilizers has led to significant negative environmental outcomes. Rudolf Steiner was an early voice against chemical agriculture. Steiner's Agriculture Course of 1924 led to the development and world-wide proliferation of Bio-dynamic Agriculture, a farming system which has always championed the biological fixation of nitrogen by soil micro-organisms. This paper identifies ten key differences between biological and Haber-Bosch chemical fixation of nitrogen.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Fertilizer, synthetic fertilizer, Fritz Haber, Carl Bosch, Haber-Bosch process, ammonia, nitrogen fixation, Oppau, WW1, Nobel Prize, Rudolf Steiner, bio-dynamic agriculture.
Subjects: Environmental aspects
"Organics" in general > History of organics
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Switzerland
Farming Systems
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Germany
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Europe
Research affiliation:Australia > Australian National University
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:15797
Deposited On:11 Jun 2009
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:39
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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