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Especially for developing economies heavily dependent upon agriculture for subsistence and for export revenue, fertilizer industries are vitally important. Fertilizer, of course, is essential for the growth of most crops, providing essential nutrients for plants to grow, especially crops planted in regions in which they are not ideally-suited.
Fertilizer is a very chemical-intensive product, both dangerous (witness the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas) and expensive. Fertilizer producers are major users of phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium, and the risks of environmental damage associated with its production are high. Smaller amounts of other chemical substances like ammonia, chlorine and manganese are also used in the production of fertilizer. Runoff associated with the manufacturing process can badly contaminate local water supplies.
While manufacturing plants provide jobs in areas often desperate for employment opportunities, the risks, costs and environmental considerations associated with fertilizer's production sometimes make their construction contentious.
As a side note, the nitrogen compounds in fertilizer makes this product a problem for law enforcement, border inspectors, and counterterrorism experts. Nitrogen compounds extracted from fertilizer have frequently been used in the manufacture of explosives used in bombs.
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