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The Habor-Bosch Process is an industrial method producing ammonia from bonding nitrogen and hydrogen with an iron catalyst under high pressure and heat.

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Haber-Bosch Process

Haber-Bosch Process

Photo by Douglas Gayeton

Haber-Bosch Process

Location: Key Cooperative, Ames, IA
Featuring: John Sawyer, Professor in Agronomy at Iowa State University

If we didn’t have the Haber-Bosch process, 3 billion people would be without food, claims Professor John Sawyer of Iowa State University. It’s the chemical reaction that feeds the world.

John Sawyer specializes in soil fertility and nutrient management at ISU, where he works with producers and crop advisors in researching the best management methods of nitrogen fertilizer. Co-ops like like Key Cooperative in Story City, Iowa are prevalent in the Midwest; they make it simpler for large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer to be applied across the nation. Fertilizer accounts for 80% of the ammonia produced in the US, with the rest used in household cleaners and other nitrogen compounds, like nitric acid.

“An advantage of using ammonia fertilizer is a yield increase corn and other crops. A disadvantage of the application is higher amounts of excess nitrogen in the soil that is added to the local water system.”
- John Sawyer

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