Encanto Potash is a Potash
exploration company

About Potash

What is Potash?

Potash is a major source of potassium.

Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the earth's crust and is found in every cell of plants and animals. Potassium helps plants grow strong stalks and resist stress such as weeds, insects, disease and changes in temperature.

Potassium improves water retention, strengthens roots and stems, and assists in nutrient transfer.  It activates vital plant enzymes, ensures the plant uses water efficiently and helps to keep the food you buy fresh.

Potash is a major ingredient in most commercial fertilizers which contain a mix of potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P).  Potassium from potash is often referred to as the “regulator” in crop production influencing over 60 enzyme systems, which control crop quality.

The demand for fertilizer is rising rapidly:

  • Increased grain consumption - world grain consumption highly correlated with overall population growth and an increased middle class that has a higher protein diet
  • The human population is headed to 9.3 billion by 2050, with the middle class expanding from 1.8 billion to 4.9 billion consumers (UN & OECD estimates)
  • Potash is a key source of potassium, which is a natural component of fertilizer that increases crop yields and there is no known substitute
  • Global farm output must rise 70 percent by 2050 on less arable land to nourish everyone according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Decreasing arable land per capita requires increasingly higher crop yields to keep pace with demand

Potash Production

Potash is processed from potassium-bearing ores such as sylvanite (a mixture of sylvite and common salt).  Potassium chloride (KCl) is the type of potash mined in Saskatchewan.

Economic extraction of potash is limited to only 12 countries; consequently, most countries have to rely on imports to meet demand. Potash is imported by more than 100 countries worldwide as over 80 percent of world potash production is exported.

China, India and Brazil are leading importers of potash with little domestic production

  • China (70% imported, 11M tonnes/yr)
  • India (100% imported, 8M tonnes/yr)
  • Brazil (90% imported, 8M tonnes/yr)

Canada is the world’s largest producer of potash with Saskatchewan producing 90% of Canada’s total output and approximately 50% of the world’s supplies.

Potash Use

Fertilizers are responsible for between 40 and 60 percent of the world’s food supply.  Fertilizers replenish our soils harvest after harvest to promote healthy and abundant crops for food production. Those nutrients are removed with the harvested crop and help provide nutritional value to the foods we eat. These nutrients must be replaced annually to ensure each year’s crop grows a nutritious supply of food.

About 95% of potash is used for fertilizer in agriculture with the remaining 5% used in commercial and industrial products such as soap.  Where potassium is deficient in the soil, potash fertilizers can correct the problem and boost crop yields and quality. 

Increasing Potash Demand

For 2014, Mosaic, the second largest North American potash producer after Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan sees global potash rebounding to 57-59 million tonnes from 51 tonnes in 2012*.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that the total world demand for agricultural products will be 60 percent higher in 2030 than it is today. FAO projects that more than 85 percent of this additional demand will come from developing countries.

The world’s options for increasing food production are limited both by the supply of land and water. Either we must place more of the world’s land under cultivation, increase yields on existing acres, or both.

* per Mosaic's October 7th, 2013 Conference Call

Demand for grain up, space to cultivate down

For over half a century, the world has relied on increasing crop yields to supply an ever increasing demand for food. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, total world grain production (corn, oats, barley, sorghum, wheat and rice) has more than doubled from 0.905 billion metric tons in 1965 to 2.091 billion metric tons in 2007. This dramatic increase in world grain production was the result of a 122 percent increase in crop yields.

Meanwhile, total harvested area of world grains, is down 6.8 percent from the peak of 1.814 billion acres in 1981.

A trend points clearly to an increased demand for potash fertilizer, with world consumption of potash recently exceeding 30 million tons annually.
*Copy for this page is excerpted from www.tfi.org, The Fertilizer Institute

Hectares of Arable Land per Person