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New ADM Video Follows Fertilizer Journey from Source to Soil

The logistics of making and moving MAP fertilizer.

While there are plenty of obstacles impacting the price and availability of fertilizer, crop nutrition products are produced and transported 24/7, 365 days per year to meet farmers’ needs.

A new video released by ADM goes behind the scenes of the complex fertilizer journey and explores how key crop nutrients, like monoammonium phosphate (MAP), are made, sourced and moved using ADM Fertilizer’s elaborate network of sea, river and land transportation modes before reaching the farm for application.

Follow the complete MAP fertilizer journey here:

Sourcing the Raw Materials

The first phase of the fertilizer journey is sourcing the raw materials. Almost all phosphorus-based commercial fertilizers, including MAP, originate from a course-grained buff-to-brown sedimentary material called phosphate rock.

Formed over millions of years in the fossilized layers of ancient seabeds, rock phosphate is mined mostly by surface methods using draglines and bucket wheel excavators. Morocco, the United States and Saudi Arabia are the largest producers of this high-demand mineral. Together, these phosphate sources account for around 75% of world production.

The global nature of modern MAP production means the final product may vary in color, depending on where the phosphate is sourced. For example, phosphates from Florida or North Carolina are typically brown to black. Idaho phosphates are green. Moroccan phosphates are brown, and Russian phosphates range from white to ivory in color. These colors have no effect on the efficiency of the product.

MAP Production

After phosphate ore is mined, the raw material is sent to the production facility. In its untreated form, phosphate rock is not very water soluble, limiting the P content available to plants.

To manufacture MAP, phosphate rock is treated with sulfuric acid to produce phosphoric acid, turning the material into a water-soluble form suitable for plant uptake. Next, anhydrous ammonia is added, and the mixture is passed through a series of reactors.

Neutralization takes place and the product is solidified in a granulator. Finally, the MAP granules are dried, screened and are ready for shipping.

ADM Fertilizer’s Transportation Network

From the manufacturing plant, bulk shipments of MAP are transported using ADM Fertilizer’s extensive distribution network of marine vessels, stevedoring, barges, trucks and railcars.

When sourced overseas, the fertilizer departs from its point of origin and is shipped to ADM’s terminal at the port of New Orleans. Upon arrival, ADM stevedoring offloads vessels using shore cranes to remove MAP from the cargo holds.

River travel represents another important phase of the fertilizer journey. Once the cargo is offloaded, MAP is sent up the Mississippi River on ADM barges.

Twelve ADM river terminals are strategically located along major waterways to store large volumes of MAP. On the last legs of the journey, trucks and railcars route the fertilizer to inland locations where it can be scheduled for pick-up or delivery.

Price and Distribution

A variety of external forces can impact the price and distribution of MAP during the three months it takes to move it from its origination point to ADM terminals. International demand, weather, and the price of sulfur and anhydrous ammonia are significant factors that can ultimately affect the price and availability of MAP.

With its complete supply chain infrastructure and contracting expertise, ADM is well positioned to keep you informed about what’s happening with supply, what’s influencing and how different market factors may impact prices.

By understanding how fertilizer is made and sourced before it reaches its final destination, you can make more-informed decisions to buy when the time is right and better manage your margins.

Learn More

ADM offers several resources to make your fertilizer planning an easier process. Visit, connect with your local ADM representative or try our Shift course. It contains useful information that can help you build a plan and stick to it.

ADM is providing this communication for informational purposes, and it is not a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell commodities. The sources for the information in this communication are believed to be reliable, but ADM does not warrant the accuracy of the information. The information in this communication is subject to change without notice. If applicable, any information and/or recommendations in this communication do not take into account any particular individual’s or company’s objectives or needs, which should be considered before engaging in any commodity transactions based on these recommendations. ADM or its affiliates may hold or take positions for their own accounts that are different from the positions recommended in this communication.