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Fluid Journal : Early Spring 2012
13 The Fluid Journal Early Spring 2012 But it took innovation and drive to convince doubters of its advantages over granular. Celebrating 30 years: Fluid Fertilizers Go Back A Long Way The Fluid Journal • Ofﬁcial Journal of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation • Early Spring 2012 • Vol. 20, No. 2, Issue# 76 While you can look back at Englishman Sir Humphrey Davey as early as 1808 (see Fall 2011 issue of Fluid Journal), one of the earliest liquid fertilizer plants to locate in the United States was that of G & M Liquid Fertilizer Co. in Oakland, California. Built in 1923, the plant used soluble fertilizer dissolved in water. Expanded use of these soluble fertilizers was made possible by the "Prizer Applicator" developed by Prizer Brothers in 1928, which allowed a soluble fertilizer to be metered through a gravity-flow or pressure system. Small-scale use of fertilizer materials in solution was advanced in the 1930s and 1940s by the new hydroponic industry. Unfortunately, perceived disadvantages--primarily economic--were not adequately explained or understood, dooming many commercial projects to failure. Another early use of the new domestic supply of nitrogen was made by the injection of ammonia into irrigation water, pioneered by Shell Chemical Company in 1932. "Solution 32." Solutions containing ammonia with urea or ammonium nitrate were not used for direct application until 1942, when they were applied in a cane field in Louisiana. Allied Chemical Corporation began testing a solution of urea and ammonium nitrate, which permitted a nitrogen concentration of 32 percent without the vapor pressure of ammonia. A small group of farmers working with a Howard Lathrope, extension agronomist at Purdue University, and Walter S. Colvin, chief agronomist of the Barrett Division of Allied Chemical, made the first farm application of "Solution 32." This early development, interrupted by World War II, was later revived in 1951 via the persuasive efforts of a small band of fluid believers. A carload of "Solution 32" was applied with a herbicide sprayer on the Charles Schenk farm south of Vincennes, Indiana. Owing to the large supplies of inexpensive nitrogen available after World War II, the use of fluid fertilizer was greatly spurred. Phosphoric fluids. The use of liquid fertilizers was also stimulated by the production of large amounts of phosphoric acid, produced mainly by the electric furnace method in California in the 1940s. Shell Chemical Company had already demonstrated in 1937 the feasibility of adding phosphoric acid directly to irrigation water. The first commercial use of this method took
Late Spring 2012