THE owners of a polyhalite mine in East Cleveland have welcomed the news that a new study has shown that the fertiliser is more environmentally friendly than other products.

ICL Boulby's vice president Andrew Fulton said the report showed its ‘carbon footprint’ is just a fraction of many other products.

The mine is the world’s first and only producer of the unique mineral polyhalite – marketed as Polysulphate – which contains four vital plant nutrients—sulphur, potassium, magnesium and calcium.

The study, undertaken by waste and sustainability experts Filkin and Co measured carbon footprint as an estimated value of various fertilisers’ global warming potential. In the case of polyhalite it was just a twentieth of the level produced by ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

Mr Fulton said: “There is increasing interest in knowing the carbon footprints of products in farming and in food supply chains. Retailers and consumers want to compare the ecological impact of foods. They want to look at every input and activity all the way through the production process from field to fork.

“A growing proportion of farmers and growers are interested in the carbon footprint of the inputs they use. Minimising carbon footprint from fossil fuel-generated energy is one of the criteria used by farming and food production accreditation standards to differentiate sustainable farming businesses from others and is essential for organic systems.

“The Polysulphate we produce at Boulby has a low carbon footprint because it is a natural product. It is just mined, crushed and screened without any further energy-intensive chemical processes. There are no additional processes, such as flotation or crystallization, which are used to create other fertilisers, so energy and water use in Polysulphate production is far less. In addition, there are no by-products to deal with which also contributes to its small ecological footprint.

“For farmers and growers, especially those in organic production or accredited to an international standard of sustainability the news that Polysulphate has the lowest carbon footprint is very welcome. It means that as well as giving precise, balanced and effective nutrition to crops, it is good for the future of planet earth.”