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Innovative fertilizer comes out ahead in eco-efficiency comparison


* Results of BASF’s 250th eco-efficiency analysis
* Nitrification inhibitor benefits farmers and the environment
* BASF customer COMPO® has competitive advantage

1/26/06, ENTEC® 26, a fertilizer supplied by COMPO® that contains a BASF nitrification inhibitor, is more eco-efficient than other fertilizers put to the test. These are the results of a recent BASF eco-efficiency analysis, the 250th conducted by a team of BASF experts since the method was introduced in 1996.

The nitrification inhibitor ensures that the ammonium nitrate contained in the fertilizer is not converted by soil bacteria for a certain period. Prevention of this nitrification process means that the nitrogen is available to the plant for absorption through the roots and can thus be efficiently used to enhance plant growth. Consequently, the soil requires much less frequent fertilization than with conventional fertilizers. The bottom line is: Farmers save time and money.

The environment also benefits from a number of positive effects. Re-application of fertilizer is not necessary, which minimizes soil compaction by tractor traffic and helps to maintain the soil structure so essential to plant growth. ENTEC® 26 halves emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). This substance, which is automatically released during the nitrification process, has a 300-fold stronger effect than carbon dioxide (CO2). The nitrification inhibitor also substantially reduces groundwater pollution.

“We are pleased that the BASF eco-efficiency analysis confirmed the outstanding characteristics of our fertilizer on the basis of objective criteria,” said Arnim Weyrich, managing director of COMPO GmbH & Co. KG. “The analysis generated important data, which we intend to use for systematic further development of our successful fertilizer strategy together with our partner BASF,” he continued.

Science and policy-making also stand to benefit

The science and political communities will also benefit from the data. The eco-efficiency analysis is part of the “Sustainable Aromachemistry” project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

“Our products serve two goals: to help our customers to be more successful and to contribute toward sustainable development. As the eco-efficiency analysis shows, we achieved both these aims for our customer COMPO with our innovative nitrification inhibitor,” said Ernst Schwanhold, head of BASF’s Environment, Safety & Energy competence center. “The eco-efficiency analysis will continue to be a key tool in helping us to combine economic and ecological success.”

In the eco-efficiency analysis, the team of experts compared the nitrogen-based fertilizer ENTEC® 26 containing the BASF nitrification inhibitor with two rival products that did not contain nitrification inhibitors. The analysis was based on a three-year harvest period during which wheat, barley and corn (maize) were grown in succession on one hectare of land.

For wheatgrowing, 140 kilograms of nitrogen per hectare was used in the form of ENTEC® 26 fertilizer. Compared with the other fertilizers tested, this equates to a reduction of up to 30 percent in the amount of fertilizer used for the corresponding amount of wheat. The nitrification inhibitor reduced nitrous oxide emissions by up to 62 percent. Nitrate pollution of percolating water declined by up to 26 percent. Similarly good results were achieved with barley and wheat.

Analysis looks at the entire product lifecycle

The eco-efficiency analysis method developed by BASF analyzes a product’s entire lifecycle, from raw materials sourcing, to energy consumption during manufacture, to disposal after use. The aim of the eco-efficiency analysis is to establish the best products to use for BASF customers while taking environmental performance into account. Products and methods are investigated and compared with each other. If analysis indicates that a product is not eco-efficient, alternative options are identified.

Approximately 15 percent of eco-efficiency analyses were commissioned by external customers. One example is an eco-efficiency analysis performed by BASF to investigate special waste treatment for the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Other examples include eco-efficiency analyses of beverage containers performed in response to requests from companies Gerolsteiner, Müllermilch and Tetrapak. Independent institutes such as Ökoinstitut Freiburg, TÜV Rheinland and Michigan Technological University review the results of eco-efficiency analyses and provide independent certification.


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