Ammonium phosphates are salts of ammonium and phosphoric acid. They are produced as ortho- (solid) forms and/or polyphosphate (fluid) forms by a reaction between ammonia and phosphoric acid. The solid form is the dominant type. Ammonium phosphates are highly unstable and are usually produced in long chain molecules to increase stability. Ammonium phosphates find application in fertilizers, flame retardants, food additives and emulsifiers. Ammonium phosphates are commercially available as mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP), di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and ammonium polyphosphate. Mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) are the commonly used types.
Ammonium phosphates are primarily used for fertilizer applications and account for more than three quarters of the market volume. They are extensively used as a source for nitrogen as well as phosphorus. Both these nutrients are essential for proper growth of the crops. Ammonium phosphates deliver nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient to the soil in an absorbable form for the plant roots. The increasing demand for better yield from the limited amount of arable land area to provide food for the rapidly growing world population is expected to drive the ammonium phosphates market. However, harmful effects of over fertilization on the environment as well as the health of flora and fauna are expected to hamper the market growth. Development of formulations for efficient techniques such as fertigation and drip irrigation that utilize minimal quantities of inorganic fertilizers are expected to act as prospective market opportunities for further growth.
Various industrial application of ammonium phosphates including fire control and flame-retardant applications are increasing globally at significant growth rate. However, there is a constant debate over the harmful effects of over fertilization with inorganic fertilizers. The excessive fertilization due to pressure on farmers to enhance yield from the limited amount of land is affecting the farm soil adversely. It is causing ground water poisoning and ocean dead zones. The Gulf of Mexico ocean dead zone is a prominent example of the adverse effects of leaching of fertilizers into water bodies. Furthermore, over fertilization leaves the soil unsuitable for farming and devoid of other micronutrients. It becomes toxic for the other organisms that contribute in minute ways to add nutrition to the soil.
The market for ammonium phosphates can be segmented on the basis of product types into three key segments as, mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP), di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) and ammonium polyphosphate. Mono-ammonium phosphate (MAP) and di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) are completely used in fertilizers. Ammonium polyphosphate while being utilized mostly by fertilizer industry also goes into flame retardant formulations and food additives.
In terms of geography, Asia Pacific is the largest consumer as well as producer of ammonium phosphate. Major agricultural economies including China, India, Pakistan and other South East Asian countries are the major consumers of fertilizers including ammonium phosphates. In North America, the U.S. is the major market. Corn and Soybean are the major crops that use inorganic fertilizers in the region. Mexico is another major market for ammonium phosphate fertilizers. Latin America is an extensive consumer of inorganic fertilizers for its large corn crops where Brazil is the largest consumer in the region followed by Argentina. While Middle East & Africa and Europe is expected to register steady growth.
On global level the market is dominated by few players due to consolidation and acquisitions over the long life cycle of the fertilizer market. However, owing to the huge potential of the market it is partly fragmented with large number of local small and medium sized players who offer low cost generic formulations to the farmers. Key players in ammonium phosphates market include PotashCorp, Yara International, Mosaic Co., ICL, Haifa Chemical and Coromandel among many others.
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