Water soluble fertilizers are formulations of mineral fertilizers that are completely soluble (solubility – 99.8% and above) in water. These can be sprayed or applied on crops to enhance quality and yield of crops such as cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Crops require a variety of nutrients in adjustable concentrations as per different seasons. This is an advantage of this class of nutrients. It ensures a consistent supply of essential nutrients to crops. Water soluble fertilizers are applied using micro irrigation systems. Key application segments for water soluble fertilizers are fertigation and foliar applications.
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The global water soluble fertilizers market is expected to be driven by the growth in fertigation application assisted by rising adoption of micro irrigation systems, especially in well irrigated lands of Asia Pacific. Furthermore, rising demand for higher yields, due to rising world population, reduction in arable land area and high demand for biofuels is anticipated to fuel the market for water soluble fertilizers. However, environmental impacts such as increase in the area under ocean dead zones, ground water contamination leading to several diseases and disturbance in ecological systems due to excessive usage of fertilizers is expected to hinder the growth of global water soluble fertilizers market. Moreover, regulatory bodies are implementing stringent policies to prevent damage to the environment and maintain ecological balance of flora and fauna, especially in water bodies.
Nitrogen emerged as the largest consumed nutrient for water soluble fertilizers accounting for more than 50% of the total water soluble fertilizers formulations consumed in 2012. Potassium based water soluble fertilizers are expected to be the fastest growing market owing to its high solubility and enhanced demand from Asia Pacific. Potassium based water soluble fertilizers market volume is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of 5.7%, from 2013 to 2019. Phosphate is another major nutrient used in water soluble fertilizer formulations and accounted for around 13% of the global water soluble fertilizers demand in 2012. Others segment include secondary and micro nutrients such as calcium, sulfur, magnesium chlorine and manganese among others.
Fertigation dominated the application market and accounted for more than 65% of the total market in 2012. It is also expected to be the fastest growing application market for water soluble fertilizers at a CAGR of 5% from 2013 to 2019. The growing adoption of water soluble fertilizers is one of the major factors driving the demand for fertigation and further demand for water soluble fertilizers. Foliar application is another key market for water soluble fertilizers aided by technological enhancements and availability of mechanized equipment for dispensing water soluble fertilizers.
Asia Pacific continued dominating the water soluble fertilizers market and accounted for more than 60% of the total volume in 2012. Asia Pacific along with being the largest market is also the fastest growing market for water soluble fertilizers. Asia Pacific was followed by Rest of the World witnessing high growth in emerging economies of Brazil and Argentina in Latin America and South Africa in Africa. Utility in greenhouses, turf and horticulture crops for fertigation and foliar application is expected to drive demand in North America as well as Europe. However, these regions are expected to witness an average growth rate over the next six years owing to slow adoption of micro irrigation systems and limited area under irrigation.
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The water soluble fertilizers market is moderately concentrated in nature, with the top four companies accounting for 50% of the share in 2012. Companies such as Yara International, CF Industries, Agrium Inc., PotashCorp and QAFCO are the leading manufacturers of water soluble fertilizers. Other manufacturers include Mosaic Company, Haifa Chemicals, ICL Fertilizers, CF Industries, K+S AG, Uralchem, SQM and SinoFert.