Commercial Fertilizer Purchased
About this indicator
Fertilizer is a primary source of nitrogen and phosphorus and often reaches surface and groundwater systems through farm or urban/suburban runoff or infiltration. Implementing best management practices and employing precision agriculture methods to ensure appropriate fertilizer application can significantly reduce fertilizer nitrogen and phosphorus use and runoff. This indicator shows the average amount of fertilizer, in terms of tons of nitrogen and phosphorus, purchased by states each year for both farm and non-farm purposes, excluding liming materials, peat, potting soils, soil amendments, soil additives, soil conditioners, and livestock manure. The averages were calculated from yearly data spanning the 2000-2009 time period.
Average fertilizer purchased by states per year, and reported in terms of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P2O5) content. Fertilizer information is reported by state fertilizer control offices and excludes livestock manure, liming materials, peat, potting soils, soil amendments, soil additives, and soil conditioners.
(tons of N/year)
(tons of P2O5/year)
Note - P2O5 is 44% phosphorus. By convention, the amount (or analysis grade) of phosphorus in fertilizers is expressed in this oxide form. Additionally, The Association of American Plant Food Control officials have developed a uniform state fertilizer bill which says that available P2O5 must be guaranteed by the manufacturer and so the guaranteed analysis of phosphorus must be expressed in the oxide form.
Source: Commercial Fertilizers annual data, 2000 - 2009, maintained by the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials for The Fertilizer Institute.
Download the Fertilizer data table (excel) (2 pp, 12 K)
Source of Data
1. Commercial Fertilizers annual data, 2000-2009, maintained by The Association of American Plant Food Control Officials, Inc. for the Fertilizer Institute.
Data source information
Data are from the 2000-2009 Commercial Fertilizers databases, maintained by the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) for The Fertilizer Institute. Fertilizer data for the July-June year (the “fertilizer year” or FY) are reported by state fertilizer control offices. The data presented are a 10-year average of commercial fertilizer nitrogen and phosphorus purchased by each state. A 10-year average was considered to provide a less-biased estimate of fertilizer application than a single year.
What to consider when using these data
Most of the information presented here is derived from fertilizer consumption data, in terms of sales or shipments, submitted by state fertilizer control offices to AAPFCO. Cases where alternative methods were used by AAPFCO or state agriculture departments to obtain or report data were:
- Estimation of fertilizer purchased in CO for half of FY 2000 (Jan-Jun), in UT for years 2008 and 2009, in AL for years 2000, 2001, and 2004, and for all 10 years in AK, HI, ME and WY. For these states, the AAPFCO estimates reported and used in this dataset were based on data from the last year reported (CO; UT, 2008; AL; AK and HI, 2000-2008), and in some cases adjusted on a yearly basis based on the weighted average of the change in the reported tonnage from surrounding states (ME and WY, 2000-2009; UT, AK, and HI, 2009). For the AK and HI 2009 estimates, 36 “surrounding” states were used.
- Estimation of fertilizer purchased in AL for 2002 and 2005-2009 based on income from inspection fees.
- Estimation of fertilizer grade (and thus amounts of phosphorus vs. nitrogen) when states did not report this information for some or all mixed fertilizers. This included non-farm fertilizers in CA, all mixed fertilizers in GA, NC, and AL, and all mixed fertilizers in AZ from 2001-2006.
Additionally, users should consider that the rate of delivery of nitrogen and phosphorus from land-applied fertilizer to streams is dependent on the amount, timing, and placement of application, as well as best management practices to minimize runoff from fields.
References and links to other data sources
1. Ruddy, B.C., D.L. Lorenz, and D.K. Mueller. 2006. County-level estimates of nutrient inputs to the land surface of the conterminous United States, 1982–2001: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5012.
2. Jasinski, S.M., Kramer, D.A., Ober, J.A., and Searls, J.P. 1999. Fertilizers – Sustaining Global Food Supplies: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 155-99.
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. Fertilizer Use and Price Datasets.
5. U.S. Geological Survey. 2006. National Land Cover Database.