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Climate Spotlight: Fertiliser


Climate Spotlight

Getting the dose right for plants and the planet

Chemical fertilisers from Indonesia alone make up 1.9 per cent of global agricultural emissions. Switching to a balanced use of chemical, organic, and organic mineral-based fertilisers can produce less emissions while still providing plants with essential nutrients and smallholder farmers with the productivity boost they need. With only 5 per cent of farmers in Indonesia using organic mineral-based fertilisers, there’s significant growth potential.

A fertiliser from the earth

 Mr Eddyko, Direktur PT Agrotama Tunas Sarana, at a PRISMA and Katadata press conference in Jakarta, Agribusiness Innovation through Climate Smart Agriculture

We want the best results for farmers.  - Eddyko, Director of PT Agrotama Tunas Sarana

Currently, only around 5 per cent of Indonesia’s 28 million smallholder farmers use organic mineral based fertilisers, representing a huge growth potential.

Organic mineral-based fertilisers are produced from naturally occurring mineral deposits. They generally contain high concentrations of plant nutrients and have the advantage of producing less nitrous oxide than chemical fertilisers.

Agricultural businesses can play a vital role in commercialising organic mineral-based fertilisers and encouraging practices (through customer centric marketing, continuous education, and inclusive outreach) that reduce emissions and improve productivity.

When chemical fertilisers hit the soil, they have a faster microbial reaction, creating nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide and can stay in the atmosphere for 100 years. The microbial reaction for organic mineral fertiliser is much slower than chemical fertilisers.

Approximately 70 per cent of agricultural land in Indonesia is in a degraded or unhealthy state,3 primarily due to farmers' reliance on chemical fertilisers.

New wave farming

Mr Antok has been using fertiliser from PT  Agrotama Tunas Sarana (ATS) since 2021 for shallots, maize and chillies from his fields in the Plemahan district, Kediri.

We encourage sustainable farming to ensure crops remain undamaged, stay healthy, and become more fertile. 

PRISMA is partnering with  PT Agrotama Tunas Sarana (ATS), an organic mineral-based fertiliser company operating out of Medan in North Sumatra, with networks across Indonesia. ATS markets organic mineral-based fertilisers, such as gypsum and silica.

"Gypsum helps reduce nitrous oxide emissions, improve soil carbon retention, and reduce erosion. Silica improves water use and plant performance while improving productivity," explains Eddyko.

"Nevertheless, encouraging farmers to embrace these products is our greatest challenge, especially in shifting their long-standing habits and rigid mindsets that have endured for years."

The partnership with PRISMA supports ATS in tackling the challenges of behaviour change.

ATS is adopting a customer centric approach and training its field staff in marketing and customer relations. The aim is to better communicate the product's benefits in a way that makes sense to farmers at important farmer meetings and harvest days.

ATS’s agronomists are active in the field, building relationships with their distributors (agri kiosks) and with their champion farmers who are influencers in their community.

Impact of PRISMA partnership with ATS

Impact of PRISMA partnership with ATS

The use of ATS' GPS products (Gypblend, Polysulphate, Starsil) strengthens my crops and increases the pH of the soil. 

Antok a chilli, shallot and maize farmer from Kediri is a an ATS champion. Antok’s land was used by ATS as a demo plot for his community and he received free fertilisers for the first harvest. Antok has gone on to use ATS products for the last 3 years.

ATS has also driven up the frequency of farmer interactions to support continuous learning. It has increased promotion activities in East and Central Java to more than 200 farmer meetings, 24 key farmer meetings, 43 farmer field trips and 5 harvest days. Each interaction is a chance to further build farmers’ awareness of the products, brand, and benefits.

As a result, more than 11,000 farmers have reduced their use of chemical fertilisers (9.16 kg N-based fertilisers per farmer or a 5 per cent reduction) by switching to organic mineral based fertilisers. Overall, 120 kg (1,320 tonnes in total) of CO2 emissions have been reduced.

Mineral influencers

Fatur, an agrikiosk owner, keeps a regular stock of mineral-based fertiliser.

Since the introduction of organic mineral based fertilisers, shallot production on Sunarsih's land has increased by 20 to 40%, resulting in yields of 6 tonnes in the dry season and 3.7 tonnes in the rainy season.

For Mrs Sunarsih, a shallot farmer and mother of two children from Kediri, East Java, her interest in organic mineral based fertilisers came from a farmer's meeting with her peers.

“I met women farmers from other villages with more experience cultivating shallots, and I learned a lot from them, including their use of organic mineral-based fertilisers. I have passed on this knowledge to other farmers,’ says Sunarsih.

“I used only chemical fertilisers such as Urea and NPK, which made my soil hard, and I could produce about 5 tonnes from my land. When the rainy season arrived, my shallot plants were also more likely to get moler disease, and I’ve had seasons where I only produce 2.5 tonnes from my land," explains Mrs Sunarsih.

In the next 5 years, ATS believes a younger generation of farmers will influence the agricultural industry.

“Millennials accept new ideas and innovations. We’re keen to target them with our products – they have a large potential,” said Eddyko, Director of ATS.

ATS is actively pursuing a digital transformation across its business, starting with digital marketing and increased video production to reach younger audiences on social media.

Learn more

Fertilisers explained

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