Speaker Q&A - Dr. Martin Torres Duggan

Dr. Martin Torres Duggan
Senior Consultant, Tecnoagro and Post-graduate Professor at the University of Buenos Aires

In the build-up to the conference, Dr. Martin Torres Duggan answers question about the challenges, opportunities and predictions on how the Latin American fertilizer market will change over the next five years.

What opportunities do you see for the Latin American fertilizer market in 2021?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of farming operations and ag input organizations. Although there are increased opportunities to boost the adoption of precision agriculture tools for the near term, there is also a growing need to integrate them into broader agronomic management. This should not only include the use of high-tech tools, but also the highly valuable agronomic practices like no-tillage farming, irrigation, soil and plant testing, among others.

Looking at the 2021 and beyond, I see several dynamic and growth markets for N stabilizers, bio-stimulants, water-soluble fertilizers (WSF), foliar fertilizers and other high-efficiency fertilizers. These technologies should considered as they let farmers improve both nutrient and water use efficiency and profitability, specialty under a climate change context.   

What are the key challenges affecting your business?

As a scientist and consultant in soil fertility and plant nutrition, I see an increasing influence of the climate variability on local communities and agroecosystems (i.e. climate change impact). Although the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the market slightly, the overall fertilizer business, economic crisis and poverty are factors affecting most Latin American countries. Hence, a key challenge facing the post-pandemic is to address the social and economic needs of the more vulnerable and informal sectors like small farmers, and local industries affected by the quarantines and lockdowns.

How do you see your business changing over the next five years?

From the growers standpoint, looking at the next five years, there will be an increasing need to optimize the whole cropping system, with a focus on sustainability, particularly the social and environmental aspects of the farming operation.

Society will continue demanding a more social and environmental-friendly food production. Hence fertilizer suppliers will have to develop strategies to meet not only the global challenges but also on a local level. Therefore, the farmers awareness regarding climate change, healthy food, among other, should be part of the agri-business agenda.  

From the agri-seller and advisor´s in soil fertility and crop nutrition outlook, there be an acceleration of certain trends, like the adoption of precision agriculture, digital farming, and the use of remote sensing to optimize nitrogen use efficiency.

Additionally, and boosted by the environmental concerns, I expect an increased demand of added value fertilizers and agronomic practices (e.g. N stabilizers, fertigation, foliar fertilization, etc.), although these technological trends will take place in at variable adoption rates depending on the Latin American´s country.