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Is there a fertilizer you could make with the help of solar energy? Answered

I'm thinking of further uses for solar energy, in addition to electricty, water purification, and cooking. Are there any chemical processes for making fertilizers which are fairly simple but require heat and or light? I know producing fertilizer is very energy intensive and usually relies on fossil fuels, so if we could move that over to microgenerated free solar energy, it could be pretty valuable.

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The ammonia to nitrate sequence uses a lot of energy, but would not lend it's self to microgenerated solar energy.
You're thinking in the wrong place, what about natural fertilisers?

L

(why synthetic?)

Drying manure with solar heat will be "green" because you would reduce the energy needed to transport it. You could also use solar heat to sterilise manure or soil (there is, apparently, a demand for it, to cut the risk of spreading non-native species).

Yea, you could leave it out in the sun - like you I'm thinking natural, rather than a production process which requires energy input for synthesis.

L

Sterilising would need a lens or reflector to increase the temperature sufficiently.

Why sterilise it? you said "manure"

L

Human manure needs to be sterilised before "general consumption", and top soil being sold is often sterilised to kill off seeds and animals that could cause problems where-ever it is taken.

You didn't say "human", I was thinking of great big lovely cows and woolly-sheep, who fertilise their pastures naturally anyway... I realise that in your area farmers are probably spreading bulk-bags of 'nitrate on the land. Sterilising topsoil such that it isn't weedy/molluscy doesn't sound at all good to me - there's an ecosystem in there, why destroy it? it'll come back

L

There's a lot of chicken muck gets spread "raw", but the local PTB made the farmers buy equipment to inject it into the soil instead of spreading it - whole towns were rendered free of tourists by the stink. Actually, the sterilised topsoil thing is mainly for gardens, like when a new-build estate leaves the gardens with a thin skin of soil over the rubble they moved to build the houses. I helped a friend dig her first pond, I needed a pickaxe to go below 6 inches.

Yes, I know the cosmetic new-build gardens. W/ref poultry-muck you're almost if not actually in Bernard Matthews-land? L

Right in it - a double-decker bus full of migrant workers passes through my town several times a day, proudly labelled Bernard Matthews on the front.

Ha ha - that raised a smile! L

I am familiar with Haber and nitric acid processes, but thanks anyway. L

yes,obviously, but I'm fairly certain the original poster is not.

I guess I'm asking if there's a way to increase food production using solar. The obvious answer is that plants grow in the sun, so, yeah. But soil health is also a big issue and is getting to be pretty serious in some parts of the world. (Basically I'm trying to use solar energy to solve all the world's problems, in reverse order of magnitude.)

Yes. Get some grass. Allow to grow in the sun. You may need to water it if it doesn't rain enough. Get some animals. Feed them off the grass. As long as you have them, they'll produce nice, high quality fertilizer from the grasses and ultimately the sun's energy- whether you want it or not. :-D

You didn't factor in the amount of "green house" gases produced. (yeah that was a fart joke) :-)