Fertilizer Trading / Fertiliser Trading and Crop Nutrition 

Fertilizer is a key component of the global agricultural and soft commodity markets and is a traded commodity in its own right.  Numerous companies exist in a back to back trading capacity, delivering different types of fertilizer to agricultural producers globally. 

Imperium Commodity Search is positioned to assist both candidates and clients in their search for the best opportunities in the global fertilizer trading markets. 

What is Fertilizer? 

Fertilizer in short, is any substance added to the earth/soil to increase the speed and yield of crops.  There are both synthetic and organic fertilizer types and with advancements in technology and understanding of crop nutrition, new fertilizers are developed all the time for specific applications and with enhanced response.  

The first synthetic fertilizers were produced in in the mid 1800’s using phosphates and sulphuric acid.  In the 1900’s ammonia became a key component of synthetic fertilizers.  Incredibly, it is thought that almost half of the global population of today are currently fed as a direct result of synthetic fertilizer.  

There are numerous types of synthetic fertilizer on the market with the key categories being Nitrates, Phosphates and Potash.  

NPK is the term to describe the amount of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) present in fertilizer as a ratio/concentration.  For example, fertilizer that is rated 10/5/5 has twice the amount of nitrogen by weight than it does phosphorus and potassium. This would also mean that you would need 10lbs of that fertilizer to add 1lb of nitrogen to the soil you are fertilizing as it has 10% per lb of nitrogen. 

Nitrate / Nitrogen Fertilizers are fertilizers produced from nitrogen chemical combinations.  For categorisation as ‘organic’, fertilizers must contain at least 5% nitrogen by weight.  Nitrogen is mixed with Urea and Ammonium to produce active fertilizer for crop growth. 

Phosphate / Phosphorus Fertilizer is produced from phosphate rock.  When dried and ground, this is reacted with sulphuric / sulfuric acid to produce superphosphate fertilizer.

Potash / Potassium Fertilizer is mined from areas where inland sea’s once stood.  The mined rock is separated into its salts and other minerals and the potassium removed for use in fertilizer production. 

Water Soluble Fertilizer is a term to describe any fertilizer product that can be dissolved in water and thus easily spread and controlled when adding the fertilizer to the ground. 

Specialty Fertilizer refers to fertilizers that are specially formulated to restrict the release of the nutrients over a longer period of time, meaning that less frequent fertilizations need to occur and crops have a controlled release of access to fertilizer and nutrients over the course of their growth. 

Fertilizer comes in many forms and different combinations for different purposes.  There are many information sheets available online that go into detail on the different types of fertilizer available and different trading houses specialise in different types and formations of crop nutrition / fertilizer. 

How is Fertilizer traded/shipped? 

Fertilizer comes in many forms; commonly as dry granulated or powdered product.  Some fertilizers are produced and shipped in liquid form for ease of use and some firms produce special tabs or sticks of fertilizer for some applications.   

Most powdered fertilizers are shipped in polypropylene bags on bulk ships or via container.  Fertilizer is easily spoiled if they are exposed to moisture and as such shipping companies must take special care to keep fertilizer products dry and sealed during transit.  Some fertilizers are shipped via vessels in intermediate bulk containers. 

Back to Back Traders manage the purchase of fertilizer products from producers of chemical fertilizers, and maintain relationships with agricultural farmers and producers for the sale of fertilizer products.  The price of fertilizer is a large driver of the global grain prices as it represents a significant portion of the cost of production.  Equally, if crop prices rise, there will be a higher demand for fertilizer as producers look to capitalise on the favourable market conditions. 

Other pricing factors include Natural Gas and Energy prices as they are used in the production process of fertilizer.  The climate and seasonal weather patterns also have an affect on the cost of fertilizer due to the impact they have on the crop yield each year.  

Sourcing / Sales agents and traders work with producers of fertilizer product to source the raw material (potash etc.) for the production of chemical fertilizers.  Sales side traders in these firms then sell the product onto trading houses or direct to retailers. 

Fertilizer Derivatives are traded on the CBOT / CME as both futures and cleared swaps by hedging/risk management professionals.   Derivative trading of fertilizers is a recent phenomenon and has grown substantially on the CME over the last 5 years. 

Where are fertilizers traded?  

Fertilizer is traded globally due to its importance in farming of all crop types but some countries have a much larger reliance on fertilizer products due to a large farming or crop production based economy.  

The largest producers of NPK fertilizers are: 


The worlds largest importers of fertilizer are:


Who are the clients? 

Fertilizer products go into the global farming and crop production industry with most of the product going into grain producers.  Grains are then sold into the human and animal feed industry.  Back to Back traders will maintain relationships with large scale farmers and growers in a specific region or on a specific product, often selling specialised fertilizer for certain applications/crop types and climates. 

What is the Salary for a Fertilizer trader? 

Back to Back fertilizer traders can earn upwards of 100,000EUR per annum in base salary in parts of Europe.  In the US, this can exceed 200,000USD for experienced traders.  Like most other commodity trading markets, fertilizer traders are paid a discretionary bonus or a revenue share of their profits or ‘PnL’.  

Junior traders can expect a modest base salary with a bonus pool for hitting certain targets and PnL figures.  As traders grow a book or portfolio of clients/business, they can attain much larger salary increases, particularly if they move to a new company. 

Imperium Commodity Search – Specialist Headhunter to the global Fertilizer Trading Markets 

Imperium Commodity Search have worked with back to back fertilizer trading companies across Europe, Singapore and the US on hiring for front and middle office staff.  We have experience on the logistics/shipping aspects of all soft/agricultural commodity markets as well as a strong network in front office trading and brokerage positions. 

To discuss finding your next role within fertilizer trading, operations and sourcing, or to find out how Imperium Commodity Search can give your firm a competitive edge in a volatile market, then please call us now on +44 (0) 203 927 5090 or register online here and one of our Commodity Consultants will contact you ASAP.

View our current fertilizer trading or operational jobs or contact one of our consultants to discuss current careers / jobs in fertilizer trading to discuss your needs in more detail. 

To arrange a consultation with a consultant to discuss your hiring needs / growth plans and where we can assist click here or contact one of our consultants directly here for a confidential discussion.

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