ASM and MOSTI has recently visited a fertiliser testing site in Port Klang, Selangor on 8 February 2023. ASM, MOSTI and Diversatech Fertilizer Sdn Bhd have collaborated on this initiative to observe the potential of ammonium sulphate fertiliser in Malaysia.
The visit was organised by MOSTI’s Bilik Gerakan Penyelesaian Teknologi (War Room) as one of its initiatives to reduce Malaysia’s high dependence on imported fertilisers. Engaging with industrial players is crucial to gather input that will help mitigate food security issues in Malaysia.
Ammonium sulphate [(NH₄)₂ SO₄] was one of the first and most widely used nitrogen (N) fertilizers for crop production. It is now less common but especially valuable where both N and sulphur (S) are required. Its high solubility provides versatility for several agricultural applications.
For over 150 years, ammonium sulphate has been manufactured, and is sometimes referred to as AS or AMS. In the beginning, it was created from ammonia that was released during the production of coal gas, which was utilised to illuminate cities, or from coal coke that was utilised to create steel.
Nowadays, the production process involves reacting heated ammonia with sulfuric acid. Manufacturers manage the reaction conditions by sifting and dehydrating the particles to obtain the most fitting crystal size for the intended use. To prevent dust and clumping, some substances are treated with a conditioner.
The existing requirement for ammonium sulphate is mainly fulfilled by by-products generated in several industries. For instance, ammonium sulphate is produced as a co-product during the process of manufacturing nylon. Additionally, in another industry, specific by-products that contain ammonia or spent sulfuric acid are typically transformed into ammonium sulphate for agricultural purposes.
Ammonium sulphate fertilisers have various benefits, including its high nitrogen content, acidic effect on soil, fast-acting nature, affordability, ability to lower soil pH, and suitability for a wide range of crops. It is an excellent source of nitrogen for plants and can be particularly useful in alkaline soils where the pH is too high. It is also quickly absorbed by plants, making it a great option for crops that require a quick nitrogen boost. Moreover, over time, ammonium sulphate can help to lower soil pH, improving nutrient availability for plants and preventing nutrient deficiencies.