New Delhi: Tata Chemicals today signed a public-private partnership with Department of Science and Technology and Central Salt & Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSMCRI, Bhavnagar — a constituent body of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi), under the guidance of National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council and Department of Fertilisers.
This collaboration will endeavour to set up a three-tonnes-per-day sulphate of potash (SOP) joint research project at its site in Mithapur on the western coast of Gujarat and use an internationally patented process developed by CSMCRI.
Of the sixteen essential elements required for plant growth, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) constitute the three primary nutrients. Global trends demonstrate that potassium deficiency is looming large as replenishment in the soil is less than what is being mined.
Currently India imports about 4 to 5 million tonnes of potash-based fertiliser. CFR (India) price of MOP is $370 (Rs17,000) per metric ton (MT) whereas that of SOP is about $640 (Rs30,000) per MT.
Speaking on the collaboration Arup Basu, chief operating officer, chemicals (India), Tata Chemicals, said, “For India, this situation is doubly alarming as the entire K requirement of the country is imported and no domestic sources have been developed for potash. In light of this, we endeavour to develop and utilise indigenous potash technology. We believe that this SOP project has potential to bring relief to the country’s ever-burgeoning fertiliser subsidy bill as the prices of potassic fertilisers continue on their upward trajectory.”
SOP is a superior potassic fertiliser compared to muriate of potash (MOP) because it has the lowest salt index and is virtually free from chlorides. In addition it is a source of sulphur (S), another essential nutrient for soil. Indigenous SOP will provide a major benefit in terms of sustained soil fertility.