Potash is a potassium-rich mineral used primarily as a fertilizer across the globe, and we mine it here at Boulby in the North East of England. It is one of the world’s most important minerals and it is used in agricultural and industrial processes. Potash was formed hundreds of thousands of years ago when ancient seas evaporated, leaving behind this nutrient rich substance which we rely on heavily today for crop growth, health and yields.
Potassium, one of the main components of potash, is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and it can be found in every cell of every living organism. It’s no surprise, therefore, that farmers wishing to increase their yields turn to potash. Along with nitrogen and phosphate, potassium is one of the three main plant nutrients that make up fertilizer. Unlike other nutrients, potash regulates many of the plant’s internal processes, such as photosynthesis, water use efficiency and starch formation. Without potash, plants would struggle to carry out these vital processes, resulting in poor quality crops and smaller yields.
Populations around the world are continuing to grow, with the amount of arable land per capita declining. In simpler terms, we’re running out of space and soil nutrients which are essential for the production of food in agriculture.
The supply of naturally-occurring, plant-available nutrients in soil, plus the amounts recycled through organic manures, mainly farmyard manure and slurry, are usually too small to achieve economically acceptable yields. As the global population expands, so does the need for sustainable food production and therefore high quality fertilizers must be applied in order to meet the market demand.
Global needs continue to change and evolve and so do we, which is why we mine this much needed nutrient right here in Boulby, supplying 60% of the UK’s potash demand. We produce the best in class fertilizers available to ensure high quality, high yield crops in a world where space for agriculture is rapidly declining. Where needs take us.
For arable crops, the typical uptake pattern of major nutrients is shown in the graphic. Relatively small amounts of nutrients are required during the establishment period, but such supplies are vital to the development potential of the crop.
Daily uptake increases dramatically during vegetative growth and restriction of nutrient supply at this stage can critically affect final yield and product quality such as grain sample, tuber size and numbers, sugar content, and so on. Peak uptake for potash is around flowering time for most combinable crops and at the end of the growing season for root crops. Peak uptake for nitrogen and phosphate coincides with the end of season.