The 2007 planting season saw the price of fuel and fertilizer soar and while this year's grain crops prove to be a windfall when weighing farm income, the cost to produce those crops is jeopardizing those farmers very survival, critics argue.
Environmental concerns are adding to farmers woes as groundwater pollution levels rose from nitrate runoff due to more land being put into corn production last spring, fueled by exuberance towards ethanol as an alternative fuel. But the new buzz isn't alternative fuel, but alternative, or green, fertilizer and few manufacturers are prepared to fill it. Enter, Itronics, Inc. (OTCBB: ITRO), a Reno, Nevada-based maker of green fertilizer made entirely from recycled photochemicals.
While you might smirk in thinking that a tiny maker of green fertilizers in Reno could ever hope to meet farmers demands for an alternative fertilizer by recycling photochemicals, Itronics' founder Dr. John Whitney says the company is only using about 0.25% of the nation's photochemical waste and that thanks to two new processes recently announced, Itronics can manufacture its line of GOLD'n GRO liquid fertilizers using non-photographic source materials. Whitney also said the company has taken production capacity up 250% in preparation for the 2008 planting season.
Itronics operates the only plant in the United States approved by the EPA to recycle photochemicals and said in a press release earlier this week that two processes to recover metals and sulfur through a leach process were underway that could both supply the company with non-photochemical resources for manufacturing its line of green fertilizers while also providing a way for the mining industry to reduce hazardous waste.
Phosphate costs are rising and just yesterday nitrogen costs went up. Both phosphates and nitrates are largely used in bulk fertilizer manufacturing. During the 2007 planting season farmers saw fertilizer prices climb dramatically and looking forward into the 2008 growing season, prices could double over 2006 rates.
Dr. Whitney says that as the cost of traditional fertilizer rises, Itronics' GOLD'n GRO line of alternative liquid fertilizers are 'becoming more economical to use'. The company has been doing all it can in anticipation of meeting a growing demand.
Weighing demand against skyrocketing costs of food production, Itronics timing may be ideal.
It's possible that demand in 2008 could outstrip Itronics' ability to fill orders, though Whitney said in a telephone interview Thursday that the company's development of its non-photochemical leach process could more than satisfy Itronics' future needs. But he also said, 'The second half of 2008 will be an interesting period for Itronics'.