Data

Fertilizer use per hectare of arable land

What you should know about this indicator

Fertilizer consumption measures the quantity of plant nutrients used per unit of arable land. Fertilizer products cover nitrogenous, potash, and phosphate fertilizers (including ground rock phosphate). Traditional nutrients--animal and plant manures--are not included. For the purpose of data dissemination, FAO has adopted the concept of a calendar year (January to December). Some countries compile fertilizer data on a calendar year basis, while others are on a split-year basis. Arable land includes land defined by the FAO as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded.

Limitations and exceptions: The FAO has revised the time series for fertilizer consumption and irrigation for 2002 onward. FAO collects fertilizer statistics for production, imports, exports, and consumption through the new FAO fertilizer resources questionnaire. In the previous release, the data were based on total consumption of fertilizers, but the data in the recent release are based on the nutrients in fertilizers. Some countries compile fertilizer data on a calendar year basis, while others compile on a crop year basis (July-June). Previous editions of this indicator, Fertilizer consumption (100 grams per hectare of arable land), reported data on a crop year basis, but this edition uses the calendar year, as adopted by the FAO. Caution should thus be used when comparing data over time.

The data are collected by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through annual questionnaires. The FAO tries to impose standard definitions and reporting methods, but complete consistency across countries and over time is not possible. The secondary sources cover official country data from websites of national ministries, national publications and related country data reported by various international organizations.

Statistical concept and methodology: Fertilizer consumption measures the quantity of plant nutrients, and is calculated as production plus imports minus exports. Because some chemical compounds used for fertilizers have other industrial applications, the consumption data may overstate the quantity available for crops. Fertilizer consumption as a share of production shows the agriculture sector's vulnerability to import and energy price fluctuation.

Most fertilizers that are commonly used in agriculture contain the three basic plant nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Some fertilizers also contain certain "micronutrients," such as zinc and other metals that are necessary for plant growth. Materials that are applied to the land primarily to enhance soil characteristics (rather than as plant food) are commonly referred to as soil amendments. Fertilizers and soil amendments are largely derived from raw material, composts and other organic matter, and wastes, such as sewage sludge and certain industrial wastes.

FAO defines arable land as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow; land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded.

Source
Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data
Last updated
May 20, 2024
Next expected update
May 2025
Date range
1961–2021
Unit
kilograms per hectare of arable land

Sources and processing

This data is based on the following sources

The World Development Indicators (WDI) is the primary World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially-recognized international sources. It presents the most current and accurate global development data available, and includes national, regional and global estimates.

Retrieved on
May 20, 2024
Citation
This is the citation of the original data obtained from the source, prior to any processing or adaptation by Our World in Data. To cite data downloaded from this page, please use the suggested citation given in Reuse This Work below.
World Bank's World Development Indicators (WDI).

How we process data at Our World in Data

All data and visualizations on Our World in Data rely on data sourced from one or several original data providers. Preparing this original data involves several processing steps. Depending on the data, this can include standardizing country names and world region definitions, converting units, calculating derived indicators such as per capita measures, as well as adding or adapting metadata such as the name or the description given to an indicator.

At the link below you can find a detailed description of the structure of our data pipeline, including links to all the code used to prepare data across Our World in Data.

Read about our data pipeline

Reuse this work

  • All data produced by third-party providers and made available by Our World in Data are subject to the license terms from the original providers. Our work would not be possible without the data providers we rely on, so we ask you to always cite them appropriately (see below). This is crucial to allow data providers to continue doing their work, enhancing, maintaining and updating valuable data.
  • All data, visualizations, and code produced by Our World in Data are completely open access under the Creative Commons BY license. You have the permission to use, distribute, and reproduce these in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited.

Citations

How to cite this page

To cite this page overall, including any descriptions, FAQs or explanations of the data authored by Our World in Data, please use the following citation:

“Data Page: Fertilizer use per hectare of arable land”. Our World in Data (2024). Data adapted from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (via World Bank). Retrieved from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/fertilizer-use-in-kg-per-hectare-of-arable-land [online resource]
How to cite this data

In-line citationIf you have limited space (e.g. in data visualizations), you can use this abbreviated in-line citation:

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data

Full citation

Multiple sources compiled by World Bank (2024) – processed by Our World in Data. “Fertilizer use per hectare of arable land” [dataset]. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (via World Bank), “World Development Indicators” [original data]. Retrieved July 22, 2024 from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/fertilizer-use-in-kg-per-hectare-of-arable-land