The turn to winter traditionally has us thinking back over the year that was. Here in the DTN/Progressive Farmer newsroom, we're also prone to look back on the accomplishments, the challenges, and the things that didn't turn out as planned. In that vein, we again asked our reporters and editors to look back at some of their favorite stories from the year. The pieces range from hard-hitting investigative journalism, to heart-tugging stories of loss, to the fun discoveries that can be found on farmsteads and small towns. We hope you enjoy our writers' favorites, with today's story by Russ Quinn.
OMAHA (DTN) -- My favorite article I wrote in 2022 was about a possible potash mine planned to be built in Osceola County in west-central Michigan. The mine could produce potash fertilizer by 2025.
The United States imports nearly 96% of the potash necessary for fertilizer production. Domestic potash production is mainly confined to two states -- two companies operate mines in New Mexico and two companies operate three facilities in Utah.
U.S. production in 2021 was estimated to be 480,000 metric tons (mt). Roughly 85% of U.S. potash sales is used for fertilizer, while the remainder is used for chemical and industrial applications.
The mine would be built near Evart, Michigan. The area is home to one of the highest-quality natural potash and salt deposits in the entire world. The facility could produce 650,000 tons of potash a year and be able to ramp up to 900,000 tons in a few years, according to the company.
As one would assume, building a potash mine is an extremely expensive proposition. The total cost of the mine would be about $1 billion.
While the mine is planned and moving toward the building stage, funding still has to be completed in order for the project to proceed to the next phase. Some fertilizer analysts were not certain financing will be in place to proceed to the building phase.
This was my favorite article I wrote this year for a few different reasons.
As someone who has to purchase fertilizer for my own farming operation, I really hope fertilizer prices decline in the near future. As someone who writes about nutrients every week, I certainly continue to keep a close eye on various fertilizer issues because it hits your bottom line and mine in farming.
Next, even though I cover the fertilizer beat, it has been a long time since we have seen a new potash mine open in the country, so it is a bit of a rare occurrence -- and not something I wrote about before.
About the closest thing I have written about in the past was the Iowa Fertilizer Company's nitrogen producing facility being built in southeastern Iowa, near the town of Weaver. The plant took many years of planning and finally opened after several years of construction.
I got to go the facility, tour the facility, and see the plant officially open. I really hope I can do the same thing with this Michigan potash mine in the future.
Another reason this was my favorite article was because the subject of fertilizer has been on a lot of peoples' minds. With the prices of fertilizer increasing dramatically in recent years, articles on fertilizer have become some of the most read stories on DTN.
This is interesting to me because I have written about fertilizer for 14 years now and for about the first 11 years not many people read my fertilizer articles. Prices were steady and producers really didn't have too much concern about fertilizer prices.
Then, a couple of years ago, retail fertilizer prices began to climb and it didn't stop for nearly a year and a half. Prices spiked to historically high levels, according to the prices tracked by DTN.
Now my weekly fertilizer column and any other fertilizer-related articles are read very closely as you -- and I -- monitor input prices so we can keep our farms profitable.
You can see the original story at https://www.dtnpf.com/….
Russ Quinn can be reached at Russ.Quinn@dtn.com
Follow him on Twitter @RussQuinnDTN
(c) Copyright 2023 DTN, LLC. All rights reserved.