TVA, Alabama have big impact on fertilizer

Published 11:59 pm Monday, June 7, 2010

Assistant ag commissioner Glen Zorn, left, with Dr. Amit Roy

Quick: Name a city in Alabama where 75 percent of the fertilizers and fertilizer production technology used in our nation’s agricultural arena was developed. If you answered Muscle Shoals, you are correct!

A little known fact is that one of the core missions of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), when the agency was formed in 1933, was fertilizer research and development. TVA’s National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), located on the TVA Reservation in Muscle Shoals, was a key component of the agency. In fact, NFDC’s impact went far beyond the US; its fertilizers and technologies have been used throughout the world.

Stated another way, according to Dr. Amit Roy, president and CEO of NFDC’s successor IFDC, two-to-three billion people, half of the world’s population, are alive today due to the development and introduction of synthetic fertilizer – more than 70 percent of which was developed right here in Alabama. IFDC is an International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development.

Assistant Ag Commissioner Glen Zorn’s company in Florala. Zorn Brothers, Inc. was among the first “cooperators” with TVA’s NFDC in Alabama, whereby it introduced new fertilizers and production technologies to farmers in south Alabama.

Dr. Roy recently invited Zorn to tour the IFDC’s facilitiesas it prepared to launch a new, global initiative called “Virtual Fertilizer Research Centers.”

Roy told Zorn the purpose of the Virtual Fertilizer Research Centers was twofold: To develop the most energy efficient and nutrient efficient transfers between fertilizer and plant; and to improve the efficiency of non-renewable nutrients such as phosphate.