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  1. 1. This week’s reading questions are related to 2 short articles about a proposed Potash mine in Thailand A group of Udon Thani's Iron Ladies shout "No Potash!", a phrase that has become their battle cry in a long struggle against a proposed mine in their village.
  2. 2. Read 2 short articles about a planned Potash mine in Thailand and submit answers to the following questions before the start of class on Monday 10/14. The New Thai Capitalism: Development or Disaster? http://clpmag.org/article.php?article=The-New-Thai-Capitalism-Development-orDisaster_162 The potash project: Thailand's first underground mine – Canadian Mining Journal (abridged version should be attached) Questions: 1) Who are the “Iron Ladies” and what is their mission? Do you think the age and gender of the “Iron Ladies” has affected the way Thai society, government officials and industry reps have responded to their protests? What if the protests were led by college students? or young male farmers? 2) Why did the mining company lobby for changes in Thailand's Mineral Act of 2002? What has the mining company done to address public skepticism about foreign owned companies? 3) Identify several potential negative environmental impacts of the proposed mining project.
  3. 3. 4) What types of technologies does the mining company plan to employ to minimize negative environmental impacts? 5) What types of public benefits does the mining company claim will come about if the mine is developed? Do any of the villagers believe these claims? 6) Estimate the potential economic value (in US dollars) of the Udon potash reserves. Assume 500 million tons of potash ore with an average K2O content of 20% can be economically extracted. Assume a world price of $500 per ton of potash fertilizer containing 60% K2O. 7) How do the 2 articles differ in their tone? (Hint: compare words used to describe local opposition to the mine)? Do you think one article is more likely to be accurate or objective than the other? Explain. 8) How do you think members of your community would react if a mining company wanted to extract minerals from deep underneath your community and claimed that the mining would *not* significantly disrupt current land uses or harm the environment? 9) As far as I can tell, mining still has not begun in Udon and the Iron Ladies have remained unwavering in their opposition. What do you think will happen? Do you think a compromise is possible?
  4. 4. 6) Estimate the potential economic value (in US dollars) of the Udon potash reserves. Assume 500 million tons of potash ore with an average K2O content of 20% can be economically extracted. Assume a world price of $500 per ton of potash fertilizer containing 60% K2O. Step 1 is to calculate the total amount of K2O that can be economically extracted: 500,000,000 tons of ore x 0.20 = 100,000,000 tons of K2O Step 2 is to calculate the price per ton of K2O: $500/(0.6 tons of K2O) = $833.33/ton of K2O Step 3 is to calculate the value of 100 million tons of K2O: 100 million tons of K2O * $833.33/ton of K2O = ?????
  5. 5. Cartel capers: Belarus and Russia Thursday, October 10, 2013 by Alan Guebert There are two reasons to keep up-to-speed on the fast pace of events in what would seem to be the very dull world of potash. The first reason is that the key players in this once-tightly controlled market continue to lose their grip on it. According to analysts, prices for this key fertilizer will continue to drop—to nearly $300 per ton, say some—through the end of 2013. If they’re right, that’s more than $100 a ton less than a year ago and a gargantuan $600 to $700 per ton below the record price of five years ago. In short, go long on potash; it’s the best time in years to buy it and apply it. The second reason to keep an eye on the potash market is that, in truth, you can’t take your eyes off of what is quickly turning into a Russian version of an American soap opera. You may recall, nine weeks ago the Russian-Belarusian potash cartel, a rocky twosome composed of Russia’s Uralkali and Belarus’ Belaruskali, parted company when the Russians simply called their marriage off. That was very bad news to Belarus. Together, the colluding neighbors mine and market about 40 percent of the potash used around the world. Their two biggest clients are the world’s two biggest potash buyers: China and India.
  6. 6. Potash isn’t just another commodity like wheat or iron ore. More than 70 percent of K production and, in turn, almost all of its prices and sales, are tightly controlled by two global cartels—the Russian-Belarusian venture (which goes by its initials, BPC) and Canpotex, a N. American powerhouse composed of Mosaic, Agrium and Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan. As such, when any one of the five giants makes an unscripted move, the other 4 want to know why because billions of dollars rest on the explanation. In late August, Uralkali’s CEO, Vladislav Baumgertner, traveled to Minsk to soothe the ruffled feathers of the big ducks at both Belaruskali and the Belarus government. The talks must have gone badly because when Baumgertner returned to the airport to fly back to Russia he was arrested, then jailed. Russia retaliated by cutting off pork exports to Belarus. Belarus got the message and released Baumgertner to “house arrest.” Meanwhile, on Sept. 24, Russia upped the ante—and, in all likelihood, the future of the global cartel—when it was announced that Uralkali had sold a 12.5 percent stake of its business to China Investment Corp., a Chinese sovereign-wealth fund, for an estimated $2.03 billion.
  7. 7. K Why is potassium represented by thePotassium ? In Latin and German, Kalium = symbol K is the dominant isotope. 40 K (radioactive) and 41K (stable) are used as tracers. 39
  8. 8. Typical quantities of nutrients in Midwest farm soils (lbs/acre-plow layer) Element Total Exchangeable Solution K 38,000 190 10-30 Ca 8000 2250 60-120 Mg 6000 450 10-20 N 3500 -na- 7-25 P 900 -na- 0.05-0.15 S 700 -na- 2-10 The total potassium content of most mid-west soils is high (often much higher than all other nutrients) but most of the K is locked up in minerals like K feldspar that release K very slowly
  9. 9. Unavailable (90 to 98%) K K K+ Soil Minerals (feldspar, mica) K K K K+ Illite clay Trapped K Illite clay K+ K+ Soil solution K+ K+ K+ Soil Colloid K+ K+ K+ K+ Slowly available (1 to 10%) K+ Readily available (0.1 to 2%)
  10. 10. So where did all this potassium come from? Depth of loess cap K-rich primary minerals Glacial outwash A loess cap covers about 2/3rds of IL
  11. 11. Cyril Hopkins wrote a groundbreaking bulletin on potassium in IL soils almost a century ago. http://www.archive.org/stream/potassiumfromsoi00hopk#page/n3/mode/2up
  12. 12. Is this possible?
  13. 13. Luxury consumption
  14. 14. Important potassium concepts No significant gaseous forms 3rd most likely (after N and P) to be plant limiting Non-toxic at high concentrations Does not promote eutrophication (unlike N and P) Luxury consumption is common for many plants Is additional uptake of K of no value just because it does not increase yield??
  15. 15. Role of potassium in plant nutrition Remains in ionic form inside plants (rather than being incorporated into organic molecules) Very important osmotic regulator (lowers water potential inside of plant cells) Activator of over 80 enzymes 1-4% of plant dry matter (similar to N) Important for tolerance of environmental and biotic stresses (drought tolerance, winter hardiness, resistance to fungal pathogens, resistance to insects) Important for crop quality (flavor, color, stem strength)
  16. 16. Necrotic leaf margins are associated with severe potassium deficiency
  17. 17. K deficiency symptoms can occur even when soil test K levels are high Corn in conservation tillage systems are often first to show K deficiency symptoms. Uptake of K by plants requires an active root system, especially in the soil zone where plant-available K is located !! When this soil zone is dry, uptake is limited. Anything that exerts additional stress or limits root growth--compacted soil layers, root pruning, side-wall smearing-further reduces K uptake, especially when root growth is restricted in the zones of highest available K.
  18. 18. OLD maintenance rates of K2O for agronomic crops
  19. 19. The U of I recently updated its P and K #s for corn and soybeans. OLD NEW *Based on approximately 1,500 corn seed samples representing 289 hybrids and 16 relative maturities and approximately 3,450 soybean seed samples representing 658 varieties and 36 maturity groups. Samples were collected between 2007 and 2011, with the great majority collected in 2009
  20. 20. Vegetable crops use a lot of potassium ! Crop Yield N P2O5 K2O Bell Peppers 180 cwt 137 52 217 Cabbage 20 tons 130 35 130 Peas 25 cwt 164 35 105 30,000 lb 90 48 158 Snap Beans 4 tons 138 33 163 Sweet Corn 90 cwt 140 47 136 Tomatoes 20 tons 120 40 160 Potatoes (white) Many veggies use more K2O than N!
  21. 21. Average K2O application rates for fruit and vegetable crops in the US
  22. 22. The more highly weathered soils in southern IL tend to have low CECs. Pockets of sandy soils (grey shaded areas) in northern and central IL also have low CECs Most soils in the “high” region shown on this slide have CECs > 12 meq / 100 g. Most soils in the “low” region shown on this slide have CECs < 12 meq / 100 g. The U of I recommends different K management strategies for low and high CEC soils. 1 centimol/kg = 1 meq/kg
  23. 23. No maintenance Critical level Crop response to extractable K in highCEC soils Crop to low CEC soils
  24. 24. Iowa State’s updated K recommendations for corn and soybeans ppm* How do you convert between ppm and lbs/acre? lbs) 2 = lbs per acre (assumes that a plow layer weighs 2 million
  25. 25. Yield response expected The U of Missouri and some other LGUs calculate critical soil test K levels as a function of CEC
  26. 26. What Happens to Fertilizer K? WHY? – 20 to 60% of applied K is absorbed by crop in year 1 – Highest recovery on low K soils Available K Slowly Available K Unavailable K
  27. 27. Soil testing methods for potassium used by US labs in 2005 Traditional method NH4+ exchanges with K+ on soil colloids Universal extractant adopted by more labs every year
  28. 28. Soils with very low soil test levels often require more than 4:1 General rule of thumb: 4 lbs of K2O are required to raise soil test K by 1 lb Soils with high soil test levels often require less than 4:1
  29. 29. Annual application vs. build up and maintenance ILLITE clay
  30. 30. Banding often results in higher yields when soil test levels are low Soil test K = 112 ppm
  31. 31. Soil test K = 224 ppm Banding is less likely to result in higher yields when soil test levels are high
  32. 32. K fertilizer is cheap relative to grain prices Economic response to K fertilization is most likely when soil test K is low and K fertilizer is cheap relative to the price of corn. high medium K fertilizer is expensive relative to grain prices low low high
  33. 33. Percentage of soils testing below K critical levels in 2010 Why are low K levels uncommon in most western states?
  34. 34. Why are K levels dropping in many states?
  35. 35. Does Cation Balance Matter? The relative concentration of potassium, calcium, magnesium, ammonium, and other positively charged ions in the soil solution influences their relative uptake. Excessively high concentrations of one cation often results in inadequate uptake of other cations. For example, very high concentrations of calcium reduce uptake of potassium and very high concentrations of potassium reduce magnesium uptake.
  36. 36. Does Cation Balance Matter? The relative concentration of potassium, calcium, magnesium, ammonium, and other positively charged ions in the soil solution influences their relative uptake. Excessively high concentrations of one cation often results in inadequate uptake of other cations. For example, very high concentrations of calcium reduce uptake of potassium and very high concentrations of potassium reduce magnesium uptake. Cation balance can impact animal health http://www.pda.org.uk/leaflets/6/no6-print.htm K fertilization often causes declines in the relative uptake of other cations
  37. 37. Research has shown that there is less risk of tetany when K:Na and K:Mg ratios in forages are between 10 and 20:1. The histogram on the right shows the greater risk of tetany at K:Na ratios greater than 20:1 http://www.pda.org.uk/leaflets/6/no6-print.htm
  38. 38. It’s well documented that alfalfa will take-up K beyond its needs if high levels of soil or applied K are available. This is referred to as “luxury consumption”.
  39. 39. Soil test values for K fluctuate during the year K is more available in wet soils
  40. 40. Antonio Mallarino, soil scientist at Iowa State University, believes the moist soil test is more accurate and he has spent the past decade validating that theory and developing a calibration for that data. “The moist soil test for potassium better predicts a fertilizer response in the field. Both tests (dry and wet) tell us potassium levels, but the moist is better at predicting a crop response,” Mallarino told DTN. Mallarino pointed out that industry still likes the traditional dry test and hasn’t broadly adapted the wet test as an option. “Drying soil is commonly done by labs because it is considered a more practical sample handling procedure, and it standardizes soil moisture across all conditions. A new process is not an easy step when you are analyzing thousands of samples a year and still need to be competitive,” he added. Howard Brown, ILGrowmark manager of agronomy services, agreed the moist test provides a more accurate potassium number. “But it is still a soil test and not yet calibrated beyond Iowa so more works needs to be done,” he said.
  41. 41. Potassium Fertilizers K 2O Chemical Material Content Formula % “Potash” = muriate of potash = MOP = 0 - 0 - 60 potassium chloride KCl 60 sul-po-mag K 2 SO 4 2MgSO 4 20 potassium nitrate KNO 3 guaranteed analysis 44 K 2 SO 4 potassium sulfate 50 Used in organic ag but also have value in conv. ag What is the main form of K fertilizer used in the Midwest?
  42. 42. White Potash oreproduced by a NaCl and other salts. potash is is a mix of KCl, process of dissolution and The KCl is concentrated using a flotation process which recrystallization. Potash ore is dissolved under pressure in skims off the surface of a fluid suspension of finely hot brine, and MOPconcentrate is further processed and and is precipitated as the brine cools crushed ore. This pressure reduces. The iron is removed inis ~ 95 percent and screened. The resulting fertilizer material this process, the MOP. It is reddish in color is white.iron impurities in the resulting MOP fertilizer because White MOP is generally at ore are not removed in this process. least 98 percent potassium chloride.
  43. 43. The chloride in MOP has negative effects on some crops Tobacco fertilized with MOP produces cured leaves with muddy and uneven color with excessive hygroscopicity and poor burn.
  44. 44. MOP is salty stuff !
  45. 45. Global K fertilizer production and consumption Total world production = 33 million metric tons of K 2O in 2007
  46. 46. http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/potash/mcs-2008-potas.pdf The US is highly dependent on imported potash
  47. 47. Will farmers in MI have access to cheaper K fertilizer than IL farmers?
  48. 48. Canada has the largest potash reserves and also exports the most potash Total global economic reserves ~ 8 billion metric tons global annual consumption = ~ 70 million tons
  49. 49. PC is the world's largest fertilizer company #1 in potash, #3 in phosphate and #4 in nitrogen fertilizers
  50. 50. How much does K fertilizer cost this fall? Potash prices dripped lower again last week, with the Gulf off $5 to $347.50 and Midwest wholesale charges down $2.50 to $382.50.Those costs suggest fair value around $485 at the retail level, but some dealers remain $25 below that level, anticipating weaker prices ahead. Fundamentals continue to point at $430 for a retail bottom, though it might take into winter to get there. Fertilizer companies aren’t even trying to jawbone prices higher yet, saying it could take until winter to turn the market around. How much does K2O cost per lb if MOP costs $450/ton?
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