New EU Regulation on fertilizers and its impact on the industry
Nowadays, as world population continues to grow while the available space for agricultural production remains limited, farming represents a key economic activity; and so, any tool or innovation contributing, for example, to a yield increase acquires a paramount importance. To make good use of the available tools, it is imperative to have a specific set of regulations at our disposal, and thus the European Union published in its Official Journal on July 25th, 2019 the new Regulation (EU) 2019/1009 on fertilizers.
This new Regulation aims to facilitate the free movement of fertilizing products within the European Union and harmonize criteria for all Member States. However, it does so only partially, since Regulation 2019/1009 does not address the so-called national fertilizers, which are placed onto the markets of the different Member States following national laws. Some Member States have highly detailed national regulations in place, while others do not. Producers can choose between marketing a product as an EC fertilizer or as a national fertilizer.
The definition of a fertilizing product gets updated in this new Regulation: “A fertilizing product is a substance, mixture, microorganism or any other material, applied or intended to be applied on plants or their rhizosphere or on mushrooms or their mycosphere, or intended to constitute the rhizosphere or mycosphere, either on its own or mixed with another material, for the purpose of providing the plants or mushrooms with nutrient or improving their nutrition efficiency.”
This classification includes for the first time plant biostimulants, defining them as products stimulating plant nutrition processes independently of the product’s nutrient content with the sole aim of improving one or more of the following characteristics of the plant or the plant rhizosphere: nutrient use efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, quality traits, availability of confined nutrients in soil or rhizosphere. All functionalities of such a biostimulant must be indicated on its label.
Apart from this new addition, the Regulation (UE) 2019/1009 offers several advantages, such as:
- Encourages the use of organic fertilizers and fertilizers based on biological waste.
- Promotes the use of recycled materials in the production of fertilizers, thus helping to develop the circular economy and reducing our dependency on imported nutrients.
- Innovative organic fertilizers can be more easily marketed, which increases the options available to farmers and consumers and promotes ecological innovation.
- Establishes quality-, safety- and environment-related criteria for EU fertilizers within the entire Union.
- Facilitates sales for producers of organic and recovered fertilizers with harmonized quality standards targeting all types of fertilizing materials that may be marketed within the European Union.
- Increases consumers’ trust by guaranteeing the fertilizers’ safety regarding human health and the environment (particularly in terms of toxicity and organic pollutants).
- Since distributors and importers are constantly present in the market, they should participate in the market-monitoring tasks carried out by the respective national authorities.
- Offers a complete harmonization of the internal market which would eliminate all costs related to mutual recognition and/or deviations in the national laws, while guaranteeing a consistent level of protection regarding human health and the environment.
Thus, with this new regulation the European Union provides more options for farmers, and reduced health and environmental risks for consumers. These new guidelines are fully aligned with the objectives of the Water2REturn project, thus favoring that the developed products within its framework can be easier to put into the European market.