Think the global fertilizer shortage is someone else’s problem? Take a look in the mirror. If you are reading this in North America, Europe, Latin America, or Asia, chances are that the bundle of amino acids staring back at you is alive today because of chemical fertilizers.
In fact, according to noted Canadian energy researcher Vaclav Smil, two-fifths of humanity –more than three billion people—are alive because of nitrogen fertilizer, the main ingredient in the Green Revolution that supercharged the agricultural sector in the 1960s. The chemical fertilizer trifecta that tripled global grain production—nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K)—enabled the greatest human population growth the planet has ever seen. Now, it is in short supply, and farmers, fertilizer companies, and governments around the globe are scrambling to avert a seemingly inevitable tumble in crop yields.