Salvage Job

Salvage Job

With fertilizer prices skyrocketing, scientists scramble to recover phosphorus from waste

By Roberta Kwok, 10:44 AM February 7, 2013

It started with droughts in Australia and Ukraine. Wheat yields dropped and countries clamped down on grain exports. With a hungry biofuel market also gobbling up corn, the cost of food soared.

Sensing an opportunity for profit, farmers sought more fertilizer to nourish their fields. But high oil prices had increased the cost of processing phosphate rock, which provides a key ingredient in fertilizer. With rising demand and tight supply, phosphate rock prices leaped from about $45 per metri...

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