CnIIcie of Aciriculture Technical Bulletin 231

CnIIcie of Aciriculture Technical Bulletin 231

CnIIcie of Aciriculture

Technical Bulletin 231

Agricultural Experiment Station

The University of Arizona by Harry W. Ayer, Elmer Menzie and John Jacobs

Technical Bulletin 231

Sulfuric Acid in

Arizona Agriculture:

An Economic Analysis

Harry W. Ayer

Elmer Menzie

John Jacobs

Agricultural Experiment Station

COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE

The University of Arizona

Tucson

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors wish to express their appreciation to the Arizona Mining Association for providing funds for this research project and for providing data used in the research. The authors also wish to thank Dr. Jack Stroehlein, Dr. S. Miyamoto, and

Dr. John Ryan of the Department of Soils, Water and Engineering of The University of Arizona for providing agronomic data and other information for this study. William Hanekamp and Ray Deschamps provided valuable assistance in collecting and interpreting both secondary data and data from Arizona farmers. Dr. Scott

Hathorn, Jr., Extension Economist of the Department of Agricultural Economics, provided data and computer assistance for determining the costs of applying acid.

Valuable comments on an earlier draft of this report were made by Dr. Jack Stroehlein and Dr. S. Miyamoto of the Department of Soils, Water and Engineering, Dr.

Gayle Willett of the Department of Agricultural Economics and several Agricultural

Experiment Station reviewers at The University of Arizona. Finally, the assistance of various retailers of sulfuric acid and farmers who used it was essential to the study and is gratefully appreciated. While many people provided valuable information for the study, the responsibility for any shortcomings rests with the authors, of course.

About the authors ... Harry W. Ayer is associate professor of Agricultural

Economics, University of Arizona; Elmer Menzie is Director of the School of

Agricultural Economics and Extension Education, University of Guelph, Ontario

(formerly professor of Agricultural Economics, University of Arizona); John

Jacobs is a visiting assisting professor of Geography, University of New Mexico

(formerly research associate in the Department of Agricultural Economics,

University of Arizona).

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Marketing of Sulfuric Acid for Arizona Agriculture

Production and Sales: An Overview

Distribution and Use for Agriculture

The Economics of Application and Marketing in Arizona Agriculture

The Demand for Sulfuric Acid by Arizona Farmers

Economic Analysis: Sodic Soil Reclamation

Farm Applications of Sulfuric Acid Applied for Increasing Nutrient Availability

Farm Applications of Sulfuric Acid for Various Objectives

Summary, Implications and Qualifications

Marketing

Potential Demand for Acid in Arizona Agriculture

References

Page

ii iv

1

1

2

3

6

7

9

10

12

12

13

15

During the past five years, concern for the environment has resulted in significant pressures to change certain aspects of the process of copper smelting in the western United States. It was during this period that

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations and state laws came to require a significant reduction of sulfure dioxide emissions from smelters. The new laws, directly affecting the profitability of copper mining firms, will result in large amounts of sulfur dioxide being removed from the air. In Arizona, the country's most important copper producer, over 30 percent of the work force is directly employed in the mining industry.

It is also estimated that approximately 3 million tons per year of sulfur dioxide will be removed from the air of the

Southwest.

Removal of sulfur dioxide from stack emissions is most cheaply accomplished by converting sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid. This is the way copper smelters plan to meet new pollution control regulations. By early

1975, Arizona was producing 1,100,000 tons of sulfuric acid per year.

Production of sulfuric acid presents a problem of disposal for the copper smelters. In an effort to develop alternative markets for sulfuric acid, the mining industry initiated research in 1972 to determine if "new" uses might be found in agriculture. Contracts between the

Arizona Mining Association and the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Arizona resulted in apparently encouraging agronomic research. Sulfuric acid could aid crop production in at least three ways: the reclamation of sodic soils, improving the quality of irrigation water, and releasing insoluble soil nutrients.

INTRODUCTION

The exact extent of sodic soils is not known, but available information indicates that one -fourth of the irrigated land of the 17 western states is affected by salts and /or sodium. Approximately 2 million hectares are distributed throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Utah,

Colorado, and West Texas. Even rough estimates of cropable acreages affected by sodic conditions in

Arizona are not available, but agronomists indicate that some portion of the farming areas of Willcox, Safford,

Buckeye and Fort Thomas are sodic and will benefit from acid application. The extent of calcareous soils, which limit the solubility and availability of phosphorus and certain micronutrients, is also unknown, as is the extent of poor quality irrigation waters. Water containing high levels of sodium relative to calcium causes adverse effects on the soil's physical condition, and water quality generally becomes poorer as wells are deepened [281.1

After three years of encouraging agronomic research on selected soils and waters, the Arizona Mining Association asked for an economic assessment of the potential, use of sulfuric acid in agriculture. The assessment was to: (1) develop information on the costs of alternate systems of marketing sulfuric acid for farm use, including the costs of transportation, storage and application, and to (2) develop estimates of the demand for sulfuric acid by Arizona farmers. This report presents the results of the economic analysis.

References shown in brackets are listed at the end of the report.

iv

Marketing of Sulfuric Acid for Arizona Agriculture

From 1957 to 1974, sales of sulfuric acid for agricultural purposes in Arizona ranged from a low of 1,209 tons in 1967 to a high of 4,1152 in 1974 (Table 1).

Information on the potential benefits of using sulfuric acid was not generally available during this period and no extensive marketing system was needed. The following sections describe the marketing systems for sul-

furic acid in Arizona, paying specific attention to

methods and costs for applications currently in use.

... selling prices are dependent on the price of sulphur, which has slumped as a result of a world over -supply situation. Sulphur inventories were in short supply just a few years ago, but domestic overexpansion, sharply increased imports

(especially from Poland), and a plethora of byproduct sulphur produced from natural gas wells in western Canada has created a huge supply well in excess of demand. Sulphur prices plummeted steadily and are now roughly 55% below

1968 levels. Acid prices followed those for sulphur [25].

Nevertheless, by mid -1974 the price of acid had increased more than 30 percent (Table 2 and Figure 2) because of a strong demand by manufacturers and the rising price of sulphur [22]. Arizona mines were able to market their acid in California, Washington, Missouri,

Colorado, Texas and Tennessee [7].

TABLE 1

Sulfuric Acid Sold in Arizona for Agricultural Use, 1957 -74 [17]

Year

Tons

1957

1958

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

2,690

3,328

1,209

1,827

1,793

1,279

1,385

2,031

1,753

4,115

1,422

2,430

1,929

1,305

2,776

1,850

1,419

1,561

AJO

Phoenix

INSPIRATION

ASARCO

KENNICOTT

SAN MANUEL

MORENCI

Tucson

Production and Sales:

An Overview

Six copper smelters were producing sulfuric acid in

Arizona in 1975: the American Smelting and Refining

Company at Hayden; Inspiration Consolidated Copper

Company at Inspiration; Kennecott Copper Corporation at Hayden; Magma Copper Company at San Manuel; and Phelps Dodge Corporation at Ajo and Morenci

(Figure 1). As of January 1975, sulfuric acid was being produced at a rate of 1,100,000 tons /year [7]. Actual production during 1974 was approximately 900,000 tons of sulfuric acid, of which about 439,100 tons were used by the mines in their own operations, leaving

460,900 tons available for agricultural and other purposes. Less than 2 percent of this amount was sold for farm application.

Acid producers expect production to rise to more than 2,000,000 tons /year when all plants are producing at capacity. The rate at which the mines themselves use sulfuric acid and the nature of the national market for it will strongly influence sales to agriculture. As late as 1973, market analysts were predicting low prices:

2 Two estimates of acid sold in the state for agricultural purposes in

,

1974 are available. The State Chemist [17] suggests 4,115 tons, while the mines indicate over 8,000 tons sold in Arizona [7].

Figure 1. Location of Arizona Copper Smelters Producing Sulfuric

Acid in 1975.

TABLE 2

U.S. Prices of Sulfuric Acid and Sulfur, 1962 -74 [22 and 25]

Year

$ /ton 100% Sulfuric Acid

$ /ton Sulfur

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

23.95

23.95

24.95

26.05

27.65

33.40

34.65

34.65

33.75

33.75

33.75

33.75

33.75 -51.15 (low and high)

23.50

23.50

25.50

25.50

27.00

39.00

42.00

39.00

18.00

18.00

1

- - - - East Coast

West Coast

55.00 -

50.00 -

45.00 -

40.00 -

33.00

35.00 t

J M

M J

S N

J

1971 r

M M J

1972

S

N

J i

M

M J

1973

S

N

J

M

M J

S

1974

Figure 2. High & low sulfuric acid prices, East & West Coast.

Source: Schnell Publishing Co., Chemical Marketing Reporter, various issues.

N

J MM

1975

2

The volume of acid sold out of state by Arizona mines in 1974 was approximately 451,000 tons [7].

300,000 tons were sold in California, mainly in the Los

Angeles basin. Freight rates for 100 ton tank cars to

Los Angeles from Arizona copper smelters as of

January 1975 averaged $9.33 /ton [23]. Sulfuric acid was being sold in January 1975 for approximately $15/ ton at the smelter in Arizona, while the price in Los

Angeles was approximately $55 /ton (Figure 2). Thus,

Arizona copper smelters could market sulfuric acid in

California for a return of approximately $30.67 per ton more than the local price.

The future of the national sulfuric acid market is unclear for a number of reasons. First, "If anticipated environmental -related sulfur production materializes, it could become a major source of supply, or even create an oversupply in itself." [11, p. 334]. Second, if transportation costs continue to rise (Table 3) due to increased petroleum and other costs, it would be more economical to market sulfuric acid near the production site. Third, the national market for sulfuric acid has been and may be affected by actions on the part of the oil (OPEC) nations which affect the amount of crude oil entering the U.S. for refining.

If crude imports to Los

Angeles and other places are further restricted, the amount of sulfuric acid produced in the refining process will be limited, and the price of acid will increase. Finally, since sulfuric acid is used in many manufacturing processes, often with no suitable substitutes, the general state of the economy will greatly affect the demand for and price of acid [10, pp. 52 -55].

TABLE 3

Percent rate increase in Rail Transportation,

Arizona -Los Angeles, August 1973 -June 1975 [24]

August 1973

October 1973

January 1974

3%

1.9%

1.9% canceled, changed to

2.6%

March 1974

March 1974

June 1974

June 1974

April 1975

2.6% canceled, changed to

2.8%

4% flat

2.8% canceled, changed to

3.3%

10% flat

7% flat

June 1975

5% flat

Total percent rate increase since August 1973:.03, + .04,

+ .033, + .10, + .07, + .05 = 32.3 %.

Distribution and Use for Agriculture

General Information: Companies involved in marketing sulfuric acid for agricultural purposes vary from those traditionally involved in selling such items as fertilizers and pesticides to those focussed primarily on environmental problems and the economical use of recovered wastes. In addition, there are three Arizona companies formed specifically to sell and apply sulfuric acid on farms.

The following paragraphs outline in general terms the various types of application techniques and equipment needed for specific types of soil or water prob-

lems and describe the procedures currently used in

Arizona. (Application rates given are rough estimates suggested by agronomists and do not necessarily represent economic optimums.) A final section discusses the economics of the current systems of transportation, application, and storage.

Treatment of irrigation water with sulfuric acid, done for a variety of reasons, requires different types and sizes of equipment [14]:

(1) Calcite precipitation control involves the use of small amounts of sulfuric acid (13 -65 lbs /acre -foot water) to prevent plugging in trickle irrigation systems.

Permanent or stationary tanks of 500 -1,000 gallon capacity are needed in conjunction with pipes, valves and pressure equipment. This type is justifiable primarily as a large permanent system in an area with sodium and high pH problems.

(2) Sodium hazard, characterized by deterioration of soil structure, high salt concentrations, and water penetration problems, can be reduced by acid treatment similar to calcite precipitation control, except that approximately ten times more acid and storage capacity is needed. For this treatment the acid is dripped into the irrigation water.

(3) To reduce ammonia loss (requiring 350 -550 lbs. /acre sulfuric acid), application is similar to the system for sodium treatment.

Commercial applicators view water treatment primarily as a way to apply sulfuric acid to the soil, rather than as a means of improving irrigation water quality.

It is expected to increase water penetration, release phosphate availability, improve stand and increase yield [5].

Some research indicates that application of sulfuric acid to irrigation water "... may result in only maintaining water quality. Soil conditions will be most effectively improved by direct application of acid" [26, p.

9].

Another report indicates that acid may be successfully applied in irrigation water when rates are less than 2.25

tons /acre [15].

Treatment of the soil with sulfuric acid, done for a variety of reasons, requires specialized equipment:

(1) Reclamation of sodic soil requires a tractor drawn or saddle tank acid applicator of 500 to 1,000 gallon capacity, depending upon ground stability. A 20 ton tank truck, or some suitable storage facility, is needed to supply the acid which is either injected into the soil or dripped onto the surface.

(2) Release of nutrients such as phosphorous and iron requires an injection pressure system to knife the acid into the soil. The process uses lower acid rates than for sodic soil treatment but is slower and more expensive than dripping.

(3) Boron affected soil, more prevalent in California than Arizona, can be reclaimed by sulfuric acid applied directly to the soil, although information is not available to determine optimum applications.

Soil treatment with sulfuric acid in Arizona is done primarily by knifing it into the soil. The major objectives

are to eliminate sodic soil problems, such as in-

adequate water penetration, to break up caliche, to lower pH, and to improve the stand [5].

Weed and Pathogen control is another use of acid.

A pump similar to the one used for soil injection is needed, in addition to a tank, either stainless steel or plastic, capable of resisting the corrosion of a 2 -3 percent solution of sulfuric acid. This system is used primarily for wild radish and bermuda grass.

Economics of Marketing and Application in Arizona Agriculture

Commercial applicators of sulfuric acid generally charge an applied rate per ton, per acre or both. The cost usually includes marketing, storage, application and transportation, although this may vary in specific cases. Transportation costs are fairly standard because common carriers are generally used. More inclusive application costs vary noticeably by company and method of application.

Short haul transportation of sulfuric acid for agricultural purposes within Arizona is exclusively by tank truck, with charges ranging from $.045 to $.072 /ton/ mile, depending on the distance. Rates are slightly higher for unimproved roads. For longer distances, rail transport is more economical. For example, the 500 mile trip to the Los Angeles basin costs approximately

$9.33 /ton by rail, versus $22.50 /ton by 20 ton tank truck.

The cost of sulfuric acid applied to irrigation water in

Arizona ranges from $26 /ton, plus freight and storage equipment charges, to an average of $80 /ton including transportation, storage, handling and application. (A

5,000 gallon storage tank of black iron may be purchased for approximately $1,500, but costs of "fitting" it for acid will double this figure. This size tank would be adequate for treating sodium and water penetration problems in the irrigation water).

Sulfuric acid treatments in irrigation water ranged from 10 to 40 gal /acre, or the equivalent of 150 to 600 lbs /acre. Based on $80 /ton, applied costs ranged from

$6 to $48 /acre.

Charges for injecting sulfuric acid into the soil varied from $70 /ton to $100 /ton plus $5.50 /acre, to $32 /ton plus $10 /acre. The most common price was $100 /ton plus $5.50 /acre and the most common application rates varied from 300 to 900 pounds per acre. One applicator gave this breakdown of application charges:

$10 /acre Application (Injection)

Acid Costs

Smelter charge

Transportation

Tax

Management Return

Total

$15.00

6.50

.75

9.75

$32 /ton

The value of the equipment used by the applicator solely for applying acid is:

Current Worth

Storage tank (9,000 gal. railroad

$3,000 tank car, used)

-cost of car tank

-installation and fitting

Trucks to transport acid from storage tanks to field

-3000 gal., used

-1500 gal., used

$1,400

$1,600

$50,000

$30,000

80,000

Tractor, 4 wheel drive, 150 HP, new

Tool bar

32,000

4,000

Two, 250 gal. saddle tanks, fittings plus meters, pumps and hoses

Compressor

3,900

1,000

Total Capital Investment

$123,900

3

4

Thus, the total capital outlay can be substantial. A breakdown of annual costs for spraying equipment, including the 150 horsepower tractor equipped with two

250 saddle tanks and tool bar with injector equipment, is given in Tables 4, 5, and 6. Costs per hour depend, of course, on the hours used each year, as shown in the tables. The application rate is approximately 11 acres /hour, and if acid is applied to 20,000 acres (as estimated by the custom operator), the equipment will be used approximately 1,800 hours annually. At this level, the cost per hour for the tractor; saddle tanks with pumps, meters and hoses; and the tool bar with acid injection equipment is $9.83 + $5.31 + 9.183 respectively, or $24.32 total. The hourly cost of each truck, including depreciation, THII (taxes, housing, interest, and insurance), repairs, and fuel and oil, assuming 200 hours of use per year, is estimated to be $35.60 per hour [9, PWR 22].

3 Hourly costs for the tanks, tool bar and associated equipment are a weighted average of 1,200 hours plus 600 hours as taken from

Tables 5 and 6.

TABLE 4

Annual Arizona Costs and Costs Per Hour to Own and Operate a 150 Horsepower, 4 WD Tractor, 1976 [8]

YRS TO

TRADE

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

10.0

9.6

9.2

8.9

8.6

8.3

8.0

7.7

7.5

7.3

7.1

6.9

6.7

6.5

6.3

6.2

6.0

5.9

5.7

5.6

5.5

5.3

5.2

51

5.0

4.9

4.8

HOURS

OF USE

1150

1200

1250

1300

1350

1400

1450

1500

1550

1600

1650

1700

1750

1800

1850

700

750

800

850

900

950

1000

1050

1100

1900

1950

2000

2050

2100

2150

2200

2250

2300

2350

2400

2450

2500

DEPREC

IATION

THII

REPAIRS

2255.

2985.

2255.

2985.

2255.

2985.

2255.

2985.

2255.

2985.

2255.

2985

2255.

2985.

2255.

2255.

2255.

2255.

2985

2985.

2985.

2985.

2315.

3008.

2375.

3030.

2433.

3051.

2491.

3071:

2548.

3090.

2604.

3108.

2659.

3126.

2714

3142.

2768.

3158.

2822.

3174.

2875.

3188

3203

2928.

2980.

3216.

3032.

3083.

3229.

3242.

3134.

3254.

3185.

3266.

3235.

3277.

3285.

3335.

3288.

3298.

3385.

3308.

3434.

3318.

3483.

3327.

3532.

3337.

3580.

3629.

33'4 5

3354.

FUEL

+ OIL

TOTAL

COST

PER HR

1426.

2628

9293

13.28

1581

2816.

9636.

12.85

1742.

1908.

3191.

10338.

12.16

2078.

2619.

3002.

3733.

3867.

3942.

3200.

4505.

12944.

3333.

3467.

4880.

13752.

10.58

3600.

5068.

4000.

5631.

15343.

10.23

4133.

5819.

15737.

10.15

4267.

6007.

16130.

10.08

4400.

6194.

16521.

10.01

4533.

6382.

16911.

4667.

4800.

4693.

6570.

4933.

6945.

18075.

5067.

5200

5333.

5256.

14551.

6758.

17688.

7321.

7508.

19230.

5467.

7696.

5600.

7884.

19996.

5733.

8071.

20378.

5867.

8259.

20759.

6000.

8447.

21140.

6133.

8635.

21520.

6267

3003.

3379.

2808.

4130,

4317.

5444.

7133

8822.

9985

10697.

11.89

2254.

3566.

11060.

2434.

3754.

11428.

11800.

12177

12559

13349

14152

14948.

17300

18461.

18846.

19613

21899.

6400.

9010.

22278.

6533.

9198.

22657.

6667.

9385.

23035.

12.48

1164

11.43

11.24

11.07

10.92

10.79

10.68

10.48

10.39

10.31

995

9.89

9.83

9.77

9.72

9.66

9.61

9.57

9.52

9.48

9.44

9.40

9.36

9.32

9.28

9.25

9.21

$32000 purchase price -quoted 12/31/75

12000 hours to wear out or 10 years to trade

150 PTO horsepower. Assume .65 loading.

$.375 diesel fuel price per gallon

14.4 percent of average investment charged for THII annually. Taxes, housing, interest, and insurance are assumed to be 2.0, 1.5,

10.0, and 0.9 percent respectively, of the average annual investment. For tax purposes, the machinery is assessed at 18% of market value.

Depreciation, reparis and fuel and oil costs are estimated by methods given in [91.

TABLE 5

Annual Arizona Costs and Costs Per Hours to Own and Operate two 250 Gallon Saddle Tanks with Fittings, Meters, Pumps and Hoses, 1976 [8]

HOURS

OF USE

1000

1025

1050

1075

1100

1125

1150

1175

1200

600

625

650

675

700

725

750

775

800

825

850

875

900

925

950

975

300

325

350

375

400

425

450

475

500

525

550

575

DEPREC

IATION

616.

653.

689.

724.

759.

794.

829.

863.

898

932.

966.

1000.

1034.

1067.

1101.

1134.

1168.

1201.

1235.

1268.

1301.

1334.

1368

1401.

1434.

1467.

1500.

1533.

1566.

1599.

1632.

1665.

1698.

1731.

1763.

1796.

1829.

YRS TO

TRADE

4.0

37

3.4

3.2

30

28

2.7

2.5

2.4

2.3

2.2

2.1

2.0

1.9

18

1.8

1.7

1.7

1.6

1.5

15

1.5

14

1.4

1.3

13

13

1.2

1.2

1.2

1.1

1.1.

1.1

1.1

1.0

1.0

1.0

THII

REPAIRS

2282.

2364.

2445.

2527.

2608.

2690.

2771.

2853.

2934.

3016.

3097.

3179.

3260.

3342.

3423.

3505.

3587.

3668.

3750.

3831.

3913.

978.

1060.

1141.

1223.

1304.

1386.

1467.

1549.

1630.

1712.

1793.

1875.

1956.

2038.

2119.

2201.

401.

403.

404.

405.

407.

408.

409.

410.

411.

411.

376.

380.

383.

387.

389.

392.

394.

396.

398.

400.

412.

413.

414.

414

415.

416.

416.

417.

417.

418.

418.

419

419.

420

420.

421.

421.

FUEL

+ OIL

TOTAL

COST

PER HR

0.

1970

0.

2092.

0.

2213.

6.57

6.44

6.32

0

2333.

6.22

0.

0.

0.

2690.

0.

2808.

0.

0.

0.

0.

3277.

0.

3394.

0.

3511.

0.

3627.

0.

3743.

0.

3859.

0.

3975.

0.

4091.

0.

0.

0.

4322.

4437.

0.

4553.

0.

2453.

2572

2926.

3043.

3161

4206

0.

4668.

0.

4783.

0.

4899.

5014

0.

5129.

0.

5244.

0.

5359.

545

5.43

5.40

5.38

5.36

5.33

5.31

5.30

6.13

6.05

5.98

5.91

5.85

5.80

5.75

5.70

5.66

5.62

5.58

5.55

5.51

5.48

528

5.26

5.24

5.23

0

5474.

5.21

0.

5589.

0.

5703.

0.

5818.

0.

5933.

0.

6048.

0.

6163.

5.20

5.18

5.17

5.16

5.15

5.14

$3900 purchase price -quoted 12/31/75

1200 hours to wear out or 10 years to trade

14.1 percent of average investment charged for THII annually. Taxes, housing, interest and insurance are assumed to be 2.0, 1.5,

10.0 and 0.6 percent respectively of the average annual investment. Farm machinery is assessed at 18 percent of its market value for tax purposes.

Depreciation, repairs and fuel and oil costs are estimated by methods given in [9].

5

TABLE 6

Annual Arizona Costs and Costs per Hour to Own and Operate a Tool Bar with Acid Injection Equipment, 1976 [81

HOURS

OF USE

YRS TO

TRADE

4.0

3.7

3.4

3.2

3.0

2.8

2.7

2.5

2.4

2.3

2.2

2.1

2.0

1.9

1.8

1.8

1.7

1.7

1.6

1.5

1.5

1.5

1.4

1.4

1.3

1.3

1.3

1.2

1.2

1.2

1.1

1.1

1.1

1.1

1.0

1.0

1.0

525

550

575

600

625

650

675

700

725

750

775

800

825

850

875

900

925

950

975

1000

1025

1050

1075

1100

1125

1150

1175

1200

300

325

350

375

400

425

450

475

500

DEPREC

IATION

948.

1004.

1059.

1114.

1168.

1222.

1275.

1328.

1381.

1434.

1486.

1538.

1590.

1642.

1694.

1745.

1797.

1848.

1899.

1951.

2002.

2053.

2104.

2155.

2206.

2257.

2308.

2358.

2409.

2460.

2510.

2561.

2612.

2662.

2713.

2763.

2814.

THII

REPAIRS

612.

615.

617.

620.

622.

624.

626.

627.

629.

630.

632.

633.

634.

635.

637.

579.

585.

590.

595.

599.

603.

606.

609.

638.

639.

5272.

5423.

40.

5574.

641.

641.

642.

643.

644.

644.

645.

646.

646.

5724.

5875.

6026.

6176.

6327.

6478.

6628.

6779.

6929.

647.

648.

7080.

7231.

1808.

1958.

2109.

2260.

2410.

2561.

2712.

2862.

3013.

3163.

3314.

3465.

3615.

3766.

3917.

4067.

4218.

4369.

4519.

4670.

4821.

4971.

5122.

FUEL

+ OIL

TOTAL

COST

PER HR

O.

3334.

11.11

0.

3547.

10.91

0.

3758.

10.74

0.

3968.

10.58

0.

4177.

10.44

0.

4386.

10.32

0.

4593.

10.21

0.

4800.

10.11

0.

5006.

0.

5212.

0.

5418.

0.

5623.

0.

5827.

0.

6032.

10.01

9.93

9.85

9.78

O.

6236.

0.

6440.

0.

6644.

0.

6847.

0.

7050.

0.

7254.

0.

O.

0.

7457.

7660.

7862.

9.71

9.65

9.59

9.54

9.49

9.44

9.40

9.36

9.32

9.28

9.25

0.

8065.

0.

8268.

0.

8470.

0.

8672.

0.

8875.

0.

9077.

0.

9279.

0.

9481.

0.

9683.

0.

9885.

0.

10087.

0.

10289.

0.

10491.

0.

10692.

9.22

9.19

9.16

9.13

9.10

9.08

9.05

9.03

9.01

8.99

8.97

8.95

8.93

8.91

$6000 purchase price -quoted 12/31/75

1200 hours to wear out or 10 years to trade

14.1 percent of average investment charged for THII annually. Taxes, housing, interest and insurance are assumed to be 2.0, 1.5,

10.0 and 0.6 percent respectively of the average investment. Farm machinery is assessed at 18 percent of its market value for tax purposes.

Depreciation, repairs and fuel and oil costs are estimated by methods given in [9].

6

DEMAND BY ARIZONA FARMERS

The amount of sulfuric acid marketed to Arizona farmers will be directly dependent on the profitability of acid applications. Estimates made of this profitability for the state's most important crops are based on crop price, the price of applied acid, and yield response of the crop to acid applications. Two sets of crop prices were used to make two estimates of returns: the average price during 1970 -74 and as of June 15, 1975.

The price of sulfuric acid used was the most common applied price as of the first quarter of 1975. Data on crop prices were from the Arizona Crop and Livestock

Reporting Service. Data on applied prices of acid were from a mailed questionnaire and personal interviews with retailers and applicators.

Yield response to sulfuric acid was based on three sources of data: test plots and field trials in California and Texas generated during the 1940's through the

1960's; agronomic test plot data collected in Arizona during the past three years; and questionnaires obtained from Arizona farmers using sulfuric acid on crops in 1974 and 1975. All known available data have been included, although the limited number of observations restricted analysis to simple partial budgeting.

The economic analysis of acid used for soil reclamation, increasing nutrient availability, and farm applications for various objectives, is based on individual cases pertaining to specific crops, locations and years.

It should be noted that, because experiments were often done on severely affected soils, extrapolation of results to more normal soil conditions is not warranted.

Economic Analysis of

Sodic Soil Reclamation

1. Grain sorghum in the Willcox (Cochise County) area, 1973 [26].

A soil reclamation experiment was conducted here using two levels of sulfuric acid and one of gypsum

(Table 7). There were two replications of all plots except for gypsum. Soil pH (paste) was 8.2, total salts were 1400 ppm, NO3 was 260 ppm and PO4 was 4.5

ppm. Yields increased sharply with treatment.

Revenues from sorghum production on the reclaimed soils were estimated using two price levels:

$78 per ton, the average price received by Arizona farmers in the 1970 -74 period, and $104 per ton, the price as of June 15, 1975. Acid application costs used were $100 per ton plus $5 per acre. The applied cost of gypsum was $16 per ton.

The estimates suggest that it would have been prof itable4 to apply one ton of sulfuric acid per acre, but not two and one -half (Table 7). The first ton of acid increases the year's per acre profits by $30 to $75, depending on crop price, but the addition of 2.5 tons of acid in the experiment resulted in reduced returns.

Due to the residual effect, additional returns should be forthcoming after the first year's application. Stroehlein, et al., suggest that the positive effects of the treatment should last two to ten years, depending on soil and other conditions.5

In the experiment, the addition of 4.5 tons of gypsum yielded 260 percent of the control plot. Returns above gypsum cost of $47 to $87 per acre compare favorably with the most profitable level of acid application. Thus, if gypsum were available, it would be expected to compete with acid as a soil reclaimant. It should be noted, however, that sulfuric acid outperforms gypsum where soils have a very high pH and/ or, being very sodic, make the gypsum insoluble.

2. Mixed pasture plants in the Kerman, California area, 1948 -49 [20].

Results from sulfuric acid experiments here with mixed pastures on alkali soils of the Fresno series were also analyzed for profitability. Soil pH (1.5 extract) ranged from 9.0 to 9.6. In addition to a control plot, tests were made against the use of gypsum and sulfur

(Table 8). Acid and gypsum treatments resulted in large yield increases.

The price of "other hay," used as an estimate of the

price of mixed pasture, averaged $33 per ton in

Arizona in the 1970 -74 period and was $30 per ton on

June 15, 1975. The cost of sprinkling acid was estimated to be $70 /ton. The applied prices for gypsum and sulfur were estimated at $16 and $133 per ton,' respectively.

Based on the tests, the control plot was the most profitable in the first three years (Table 8). However, cumulative net profits were higher where either gypsum or sulfuric acid was applied. Net returns using sulfuric acid were slightly above those for gypsum.

4 In calculations of profits, both here and in the remainder of the cases studied, no account was taken of the added costs of harvesting resulting from acid induced increases in plant growth and yield.

In most cases, these costs were probably small. For example, in

Maricopa County, the added costs of harvesting grain were only

$.15 per CWT for yields above 2,000 lbs., and in most counties there were none [4].

6

Experimental data also suggest the importance of the residual effect [12].

6 Plants included narrowleaf trefoil, strawberry clover, alsike clover, alta fescue, rhodesgrass, dallisgrass, perennial ryegrass.

7 August 1975 prices were between $130 and $133 per ton. Application by "easy flow" spreader cost approximately $0.35 per acre.

TABLE 7

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid and Gypsum

Treatments on Sorghum, Willcox

Treatment tons /acre

Yield* tons /acre

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

Total Returns

@

$78/1

@

$104/T

Total

Treatment

Cost

0

1 acid

2.5 acid

4.5 gypsum

.96

2.69

2.25

2.49

100

281

235

260

$ 75

210

176

194

$100

280

234

259

*Yields based on weight of grain = .70 x head weight as reported in [26].

$

105

255

72

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

@ @

$78/1 $104/1

$ 75

$100

105 175

-79 -21

122 187

7

3. Alfalfa in the Kerman, California area, 1949 [20].

Profits were also analyzed for results of differing applications of sulfuric acid on alfalfa (Table 9). Yield increases from treatment were substantial. Alfalfa hay prices were assumed to be $40 and $60 per ton and the cost of sprinkle application of sulfuric acid $70 per ton. The estimates suggest that after the first year, the cumulative, discounted net benefits were greatest for the 1.42 ton /acre application (Table 9). These calculations were based on only one cutting of alfalfa. With multiple cuttings, as is the common practice, net returns should be higher, assuming a carryover benefit.

4. Alfalfa grown in a greenhouse using soils from Kerman, California area, 1949 [20].

Greenhouse experiments were conducted by University of California agronomists in 1949 to determine the effect of /ow levels of sulfuric acid on alfalfa production. Five levels of acid were applied and replicated six times. The experiment was carried out in five gallon buckets which were randomized to permit statistical analysis. Yields were increased significantly by the application of sulfuric acid (Table 10).

Based on $40 and $60 per ton alfalfa and $70 per ton application costs, the highest net returns were with the application of 1.42 tons of acid per acre (Table 10).

However, differences in yields between applications of

.71 and 1.42 tons were not statistically significant. The acid treatment was considerably more profitable than gypsum.

TABLE 8

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfur, Gypsum and Sulfuric Acid Treatments on Mixed Pasture Plants, Kerman, California

Treatment tons /acre

Yield average for 3 cuttings tons /acre, fresh wt.

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

Total Returns

@

$33/7

@

$30 /T

Total

Treatment

Cost

First Year Returns -

Cost of Treatment

Cumulative Net Returns Discounted to

@ @ Year of Application,* @ $30 /T, by year

$33/7

$30 /T

1

2

3

4

0

1.86 sulfur

10.0 gypsum

5.7

acid **

3.36

3.65

5.18

7.65

100

109

154

288

$111

120

171

252

$101

110

155

230

$

0

247

160

399

$111 $101

$101 $195 $281 $360

-127 -137 -137

11

- 35

59 146

-

5

-

5

139 272 395

-147 -169

-169

44

241

423

*AII costs of acid application are assumed to occur only in the initial year. Annual returns are discounted at 8% to bring the stream offuture returns to a present (year of acid application) value. Thus, in the case of 5.7 tons /acre acid application, initial acid cost is $399 and the first year return is

$230, for an initial loss of $169. By the second year, however, total discounted benefits, assuming the same yield response, are $44 greater than costs, and by the third year are $241 greater. Computations have been made for only 4 crop periods because of the uncertainties of length of time for reclamation.

* *For all three cuttings, yields from application of sulfuric acid were statistically greater than those for no acid treatment.

TABLE 9

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid Treatments on Alfalfa, Kerman, California

Acid

Treatment tons /acre

Yield

1st cutting* tons /acre

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

Total Returns

@ @

$40 /T

$60 /T

Total

Treatment

Cost

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

Cumulative Net Returns Discounted to

@

$40 /T

@

$60 /T

Year of Application, ** @ $60 /T, by year

1

2 3

4

0

1.42

2.85

.50

1.33

1.51

100

266

302

$20

53

60

$30

80

91

$

0

99

200

$ 20

- 46

-140

$ 30

- 19

-109

$ 30

- 19

-109

$58

55

-25

$ 84

124

53

$108

187

125

*Yields of treated plots were significantly higher than with no acid, but not statistically different from each other. Yield on 1st cutting is the average yield for various plots.

*See Table 7 explanation.

TABLE 10

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid and Gypsum

Treatments on Alfalfa, Kerman, California

Treatment tons /acre

Yield avg.

annual* tons /acre

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

Total Returns

@

$40 /T

@

$60 /T

Total

Treatment

Cost

@

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

$40 /T

@

$60 /T

0

.36

.71

1.42

2.50 (gypsum)

3.06

16.25

20.56

22.73

11.70

100

531

672

743

382

$122

$

184

650

822

909

468

975

1,234

1,364

702

$ 0

25

50

99

40

$122

$ 184

625

772

950

1,184

810 1,265

428 662

*Yields are all statistically different from the no treatment yield at the .01 level and from each other, at least at the .05 level, except yields obtained with .71 and 1.42 tons of acid. In this case, yields from the first cutting were nearly equal, and those from the second cutting were not statistically different at the

.01 level.

8

Economic Analysis of Farm Applications for Increasing Nutrient Availability

1. Treatment for iron deficiency of grain sorghum in the

Stewart (Cochise County) area, 1974 [27].

Field tests on grain sorghum were conducted in 1974 at Stewart, Arizona, to determine the effect of sulfuric acid in resolving iron deficiency problems. Three levels of acid, ranging from .5 to 3 tons per acre, were applied in three replications by injection into the soil. Substantial grain yield increases were observed for higher rates of application (Table 11).

Calculations of the profitability of these applications were made based on the average 1970 -74 farm price for grain sorghum of $78 per ton, and the June 1975 price of $104 per ton. The cost of acid applied by band injection was estimated at $100 per ton plus $5.50 per acre. Given these prices and costs, although sulfuric acid improved yield, net returns were lower when acid was applied (Table 11). Furthermore, the agronomists

[27] reported that iron deficiency could have been corrected at a lower cost if foliar spray, such as ferrous sulfate, ferrous amonium sulfate, or certain of the iron chelates, had been used instead of acid.

2. Treatment for iron deficiency of grain sorghum near

Safford, 1974 [27].

Tests on sulfuric acid use to reduce iron deficiency were conducted here. Four levels of acid, with three replications, were applied by knifing into the soil in bands. Applications of acid increased yield (Table 12), but estimates of returns based on application costs and grain prices listed above, indicated it was unprofitable to apply acid (Table 12).

Acid

Treatment tons /acre

TABLE 11

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Treatments on Grain Sorghum, Stewart

Yield* tons /acre

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

Total Returns

@

@

$78 /ton $104 /ton

Total

Treatment

Cost

0

0.5

1.0

3.0

1.81

1.87

2.37

3.12

100

103

131

173

$141 $188

146

194

185

246

243

324

*Yields based on weight of grain = .70 x head weight as reported in [27].

$ 0

55.50

105.50

305.50

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

@

@

$78 /ton $104 /ton

$141

90

79

- 63

$188

138

140

19

TABLE 12

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Treatments on Grain Sorghum, Safford.

1

3

5

10

Acid

Treatment tons /acre

0

Yield* tons /acre

5.3

1.32

1.51

2.09

2.58

Relative Yield percent of no treatment

100

250

283

392

483

$ 41

103

118

163

201

Returns -

Total Returns

@

$78/T

Total

Cost of Treatment

@

Treatment

@

$104/T

Cost

$78/7

@

$104/T

$ 55

$

137

157

217

268

106

306

506

1,006

$41

$55

-

3

31

-188

-149

-343

-289

-805 -738

*Based on grain weight = .70 x head weight as reported in [27].

3. Treatment for iron deficiency of grain sorghum in the

Muleshoe, Texas, area, 1967 [13].

Tests were conducted to determine the effect of sulfuric acid and ferrous sulfate on the yield of grain sorghum susceptible to iron deficiency chlorosis. Three levels of sulfuric acid were applied to each of three levels of ferrous sulfate, for a total of twelve treatments, each replicated three times. Treatments were made by chiseling the materials directly under the seed zone before planting (Table 13). Considerable increases in yields were noted for certain combinations of treatments (Table 14).

The price to Arizona farmers of ferrous sulfate was

$.10 per pound and the cost of knifing it into the soil was estimated to be $5.00 per acre (based on the cost of applying sulfuric acid and anhydrous ammonia in a similar way of from $4.00 to $5.50 per acre) [4]. Given costs of applying acid and the estimated prices of grains, both acid and ferrous sulfate were profitable

(Table 14). The most profitable applications were 1/4 ton of acid and 0 to 310 pounds of ferrous sulfate. The results differ from previous observations in that the lower levels of acid application proved most profitable.

At the highest level of 2.5 tons of acid per acre, yield actually declined.

TABLE 13

Yield Response of Grain Sorghum to Sulfuric Acid and

Ferrous Sulfate, Muleshoe, Texas

H2SO4 0

Fe, kg/ha

112 560

0

112

560

5600

434 d*

605 cd

2,169 ab

1,885 ab

1,460 bc

1,538 ab

2,429 ab

1,971 ab

2,275 ab

2,474 a

2,230 ab

1,810 ab

*Yield values followed by the same letters are not significantly different at the 5% level.

9

TABLE 14

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid and

Ferrous Sulfate on Grain Sorghum, Muleshoe, Texas

Treatment lbs /ac

H2SO4 FeSO4*

Yield lbs /acre

Relative Yield

(% of no acid, no FeSO4)

Total Returns

@ @

$78/1 $104/T

Total Treatment

Cost of H2SO4 and FeSO4

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

@

$78/1

@

$104 /T

0

100

498

4984

0

100

498

4980

0

100

498

4980

0

0

310

310

310

310

1543

1543

1543

1543

0

0

386

538

1,930

1,678

1,299

1,369

2,162

1,754

2,025

2,202

1,985

1,611

560

454

525

571

514

417

100

139

500

435

337

355

$15

22

77

67

52

55

86

70

81

88

79

64

$ 20

28

100

87

68

71

112

91

105

115

103

84

$

0

10

30

255

36

46

66

291

159

169

189

414

$ 15 $ 20

12 18

47 70

-188 -168

16 32

9

25

20 46

-221 -200

- 78 - 54

- 81

-110

- 54

- 86

-350 -330

*Iron applications converted to a ferrous sulfate equivalent based on information from Arizona

Agrochem Co. that its ferrous sulfate is approximately 32% iron.

An Economic Analysis of

Farm Applications of Sulfuric Acid for Various Objectives

Personal interviews with fifteen Arizona farmers, nearly all of whom had used sulfuric acid in 1974, were conducted to determine yield response to acid applications. Farmers generally indicated acid was used to improve water penetration, nutrient availability and water quality. Unfortunately, few of them had any precise knowledge of yield response in terms of the treatment used.

1. Wheat

The results of experiments with acid on wheat in

Arizona indicate that yields increased in three of the four cases (Table 15). However, in one of these instances the cost of acid was greater than the returns at

1970 -74 wheat prices, and costs nearly equalled added returns at 1975 prices.

2. Cotton

Four farms reported using acid in irrigation water on cotton, with yields increasing in three of the four cases.

Profits were computed, assuming acid costs $80 per ton applied, and assuming, first, the 1970 -74 average farm price of cotton fiber and seed of $.3536 and

$.0425 per pound respectively, and then the June 15,

1975 price of fiber and seed of $.415 and $.06 per pound respectively. Applications increased profits by

$100 to nearly $200 per acre on three of the four farms

(Table 16).

3. Grain Sorghum

Two farms reported using sulfuric acid on sorghum, one in irrigation water, one by injection. Application costs were $80 per ton for water run, and $100 per ton plus $5 per acre for injection. Both yields and profits showed only marginal increase for the water run acid, but were quite substantial for the injected acid (Table

17).

TABLE 15

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid Applied to

Arizona Wheat Farms 1974 Crop Year [6]

Location, application type

Willcox, injected

Treatment ton /acre

0

0.15

Yield tons /acre

1.85

2.60*

Total Returns

@ @

$70 /T

$102/T

$130

182

$189

265

Total

Treatment

Cost

$

0

20

@

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

$70 /T

$130

162

@

$102 /1

$189

245

Chandler, water run

0

0.09

2.81

3.75*

197

263

287

383

0

7

197

256

287

376

Three Points, water run

0

0.75

1.32

1.98 **

92

139

135

202

0

60

92

79

135

142

** *Glendale, water run

0.075

0.15

0.30

3.3

1.5 **

1.8 **

231

105

126

336

153

184

6

12

24

225

93

102

330

141

160

*Estimated by farmer without control plot comparison.

* *Measured with control plot comparison.

* * *J. L. Stroehlein indicates these results are of questionable scientific value and should be used with this understanding.

10

4. Alfalfa

Two farms used sulfuric acid in water on fields planted to alfalfa. Yields were estimated to increase in both cases (Table 18). However, using prices of $40 and $60 per ton for alfalfa, and $80 per ton for application of acid, only one farm was estimated to have a profit from acid use.

Location and

Application Type

TABLE 16

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid Applied to Arizona Cotton Farms, 1974 Cr rop Year [6] tons /acre

Lint

Yield

Seed

Returns

Lint

$.3

6

/Ib

@

$.415/1b

Seed

$.0425/1b

$.0066/Ib

Total Returns from Lint & Seed

70

-74 avg.

Price

Current

Price

Total

Treatment

Cost

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

@

70 -74 avg.

@

Current

Prices

Prices

Buckeye water run

0

0.38

1200 1980 $424 $498

1100"

1815 389

457

$ 84

$119 $508 $617

77 109

466

566

$ 0

30

$508 $617

436 536

Buckeye, water run

Buckeye water run

0

0.11

0

0.30

1344

1728 **

780

1080

2218

2851

1287

1782

Chandler, water run

0

0.11

1116

1488 **

1838

2450

"Estimated by farmer without control plot comparison.

* *Measured against test plot.

475

611

276

382

395

526

558

717

324

448

463

618

94

121

55

76

78

102

133

171

77

107

110

147

569

732

331

458

473

628

691

888

401

555

573

765

0

24

0

9

0

9

569

723

331

434

473

619

691

879

401

531

573

756

TABLE 17

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid

Applied to Arizona Sorghum Farms, 1974 crop year [6]

Location and

Type of Acid

Application

Willcox, injected

Treatment tons /acre

0

0.15

Yield tons /acre

2.50

3.25*

Total Returns

@ @

$78/T $104 /T

$195

254

Buckeye, water ru n

0

0.15

1.6

1.8

125

140

*Estimated by farmer without control plot comparison.

$260

332

166

187

Total

Treatment

Cost

$ 0

20

0

12

Returns -

Costs of Treatment

@

@

$78/T

$104 /T

195

234

260

312

125

128

166

175

TABLE 18

Per Acre Yields, Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid

Applied to Arizona Alfalfa Farms, 1974 Crop Year [6]

Location and

Type of Acid

Application

Douglas, water run

Treatment tons /acre

0

0.15

Yield tons /acre

1.5

3.0"

Total Returns

@ @

$40 /T $60 /1

$60 $90

120 180

Glendale, water run

0

0.23

1.97

2.13 **

*Estimated by farmer without control plot comparison.

* *Checked in test plot comparison.

79

85

118

128

Total

Treatment

Cost

$0

12

0

18

Returns -

Cost of Treatment

@ @

$40 /T

$60 /T

$60

108

$90

168

79

67

118

110

5. Assorted Crops and Qualitative Data

Several farmers were unable to give estimates of yield response, but did give qualitative information on yield changes. Two reported being favorably impressed with yield response; four believed there was no yield response to acid applications (Table 19). However, in the one instance of acid applied to sugar beets, the farmer believed sugar content rose one percent, even though yield wasn't thought to have increased.

6. Summary observations

In each locality where farm schedules were taken, it was apparent that one or two successful farmers had been users of acid for seven to fifteen years. Acid was not programmed for use every year, but only to fit specific situations. For example, some fields of 160 acres had areas of 5 to 15 acres which would not absorb water. On these, farmers applied large amounts of acid, prior to seeding, with beneficial results, and found

11

the treatment to last three to seven years. They

claimed soil filth and crop yields improved the second and third years. In other cases, farmers applied the acid to irrrigation water high in salt content, and repeated the treatment at approximately four year intervals.

Farmers who used acid several years generally agreed best results were obtained by using one heavy application in the spring before seeding the crop, and before summer temperatures set in. Since the use of acid in the farm management program may be on an occasional basis under varied situations, it is difficult to determine specific benefits from treatment.

Crop

Barley

Lettuce

Barley

Various crops during last

15 years

Sugar Beets

TABLE 19

Qualitative Information on Costs and Returns of Sulfuric Acid

Applied to Various Crops on Arizona Farms, 1974 Crop Year [6]

Location Acid Treatment Yield Response

Willcox 15 gal /ac, applied after crop up

No yield check made, but no increase in yield was considered to exist

Willcox

Avondale

Chandler

15 gal /ac, applied after crop up

1500 lbs/ac

Unknown

No yield check made, but don't believe there was any increase in yield

No yield data, but results appear good and will apply considerably more in 1975

No yield data, but believe results have been favorable

Buckeye

.075 ton /ac

Cotton Gila Bend Unknown

No yield data, but doesn't believe yield was increased. However, does feel that the sugar content was increased by one percent.

No yield response observed, but may have been due to unforeseen management mishap

SUMMARY, IMPLICATIONS

AND QUALIFICATIONS

Marketing

The price of acid has climbed sharply in the past few months, and the evidence suggests that Arizona's production is not likely to have much impact on the price.

Hazelton [10, pp. 25 -55] implies that the demand for sulfuric acid in the short run may be inelastic (a one percent increase in the quantity of acid available would result in more than a one percent decrease in acid price), but elastic in the longer run. If Arizona's production rises to two million tons, this would be less than 7 percent of the U.S. total in 1974 (Table 20). The increase from 1974 would be less than 6 percent of total national production. In the short run, depending on the elasticity of demand, prices could drop by somewhat more than 6 percent. But in the longer run, manufacturers would change production proceses to take advantage of lower acid prices, thereby increasing the demand. This would tend to bring prices back near the level prior to the Arizona expansion.

Current price relationships encourage out of state sales of sulfuric acid. West Coast prices of $55 per ton compare favorably with the FOB price of the $15 per ton charged by smelters. Given transportation costs of under $10 per ton for delivery to Los Angeles from

Arizona would suggest local sales will likely be limited unless prices are adjusted upward.

12

Year

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

Jan. 1975

TABLE 20

Production of Sulfuric Acid in the

United States, 1950 -75 [18]

Short tons

13,029,000

13,372,300

13,334,638

14,002,534

14,000,519

16,255,000

16,495,000

16,388,000

15,950,000

17,609,000

17,883,000

17,848,000

19,351,000

20,936,000

22,924,000

24,851,000

28,477,000

28,815,000

29,000,000

26,537,000

30,000,000

29,037,800

31,299,700

31,583,400

32,394,072

2,516,312

Marketing of acid to farmers is only beginning to de-

velop. There are few (less than 10) commercial

applicators, and of these, several entered the business in 1975. Water run, soil injection and sprinkler application are being used, although there is considerable uncertainty about the timing, amounts and methods of handling for each application system. Even commercial suppliers who sold acid for several years do not have accurate information readily at hand on such basic facts as the amount of acid sold for agricultural purposes, or the number of farmers who had purchased it in the past.

The limited number of acid retailers and applicators and the general lack of knowledge of the technical aspects of their business, make it difficult to give "hard" evidence on the "best" ways of marketing and application. Sharp differences were found in the applied price of acid, even for similar methods. The most common price for acid injected into the soil was $100 per ton plus $5.50 per acre, but ranged as low as $32 per ton plus $10 per acre.

Two factors might be expected to drive down the applied price of acid: new technical information which will decrease the risks and uncertainties, reducing costs and permitting a lower price; and new entrants into the business who will increase competition and force prices down. On the other hand, costs of transporting the acid, the costs of application, machinery, and fuel needed may increase. Additionally, the price of acid available on the West Coast is likely to increase competition for it and raise the local price. These items will tend to offset at least part of the price reduction associated with new techniques and more competitive application prices.

Potential Demand for Acid in Arizona Agriculture

We are cautiously optimistic about the future use of sulfuric acid in Arizona agriculture. Our general assessment is based on several factors, the most important being the profitability of acid use. Of the 19 cases examined in this report, it would have been profitable to apply acid in 13 (Table 21). In the four instances where acid was applied to specifically treat sodic soil problems, it was always more profitable to use acid than to leave the soil untreated.

Three tests were made to treat iron deficiency problems of the soil, and in only one of these cases would it have been profitable to apply acid. This fact alone suggests that acid treatment for iron deficiencies is not likely to be a major use. Agronomists suggest several reasons why such treatment may not prove economical: (1) it is difficult to detect iron deficiency problems,

(2) the best depth of application is unknown, (3) the interaction effects of acid, iron deficient soils and sodic soils are unknown. Also, foliant sprays are a likely, less costly alternative.

Acid was also applied by Arizona farmers to improve soil permeability, release nutrients from the soil and improve the quality of salty water. In nine of twelve cases, this was estimated to be profitable. Some farmers in each of the areas of the state where acid was applied in 1974 had been using acid on an intermittent basis for seven to fifteen years, with satisfactory results. Finally, where favorable results have been found, profits tend to be high from acid application. In many instances, the rate of return on the investment has been estimated to exceed 100 percent.

Future profitability of acid use may be greater than the computations made in this report reflect because profits were computed on the most common applied prices of sulfuric acid. But these were generally significantly higher than the lowest prices being charged now.

TABLE 21

Most Profitable Level of Acid Treatment in Various Experiments and on Arizona Farms,

Tons of Acid per Acre, by Crop, Location, Reason for Treatment and Type of Application

Wheat Grain Sorghum

Mixed Pasture

Plants

Alfalfa Cotton

Willcox (V,w)*

0.15

Chandler (V,w)

0.09

Three Points (V,w)

0.75

Glendale (V,w)

0 **

Willcox (S,i)

0.1

Stewart (N,i)

0

Safford (N,i)

0

Muleshoe (N,i)

<1/4

Willcox (V,i)

0.15

Buckeye (V,w)

0.15

Kerman (S,d)

5.7

Kerman (S,d)

1.42

Kerman (S,d)

1.42

Douglas (V,w)

0.15

Glendale (V,w)

0

Buckeye (V,w)

0

Buckeye (V,w)

0.11

Buckeye (V,w)

0.30

Chandler (V,w)

0.11

*Symbols in parentheses indicate the reason for and the means of acid treatment.

S = for sodic soil

N = for iron deficiency

V = for various reasons i = by injection d = by dripping onto the soil w = by irrigation water application

* *Based on results of a poorly performed experiment.

13

Increased knowledge on the part of the farmer will also be important in stimulating acid sales. In the past, much of the acid has been applied ad hoc without good technical information. University scientists, extension agents, agricultural consultants and farmers themselves can make a contribution to knowledge and improved techniques in the use of acid.

Other uses of acid might also expand the amount sold, although in this report, only those uses which appeared to have the greatest potential were studied.

Potential also exists for application on citrus, vegetables, horticultural crops and establishment of range grasses [16]. It may also be used to control weeds and soil borne pathogens. Additionally, acid use may prevent plugging of trickle irrigation emitters, improve water penetration, thereby reducing tail water pumping costs, and substitute for phosphorous by releasing this nutrient from soils in which it is currently insoluble [19].

Finally, the recent record of sulfuric acid sales to

Arizona agriculture suggests an improved market outlook. Sales more than doubled between 1973 and 1974

(Table 1), and discussions with acid retailers indicate their sales have increased several fold in 1975 over

1974.

There are a number of reasons, however, why optimism about expanded acid use in Arizona agriculture should be treated with caution. First, and perhaps most importantly, there simply are no hard data on the acreage of farmable land needing acid applications.

Beaton and Fox [2] suggest that 4.9 million acres of sodic soil are distributed through Arizona, New Mexico,

Utah, Colorado and West Texas. But University of

Arizona agronomists say this is an extremely crude figure, especially in terms of farmable land. The best, yet very qualitative, statement that can be made for

Arizona is that some portions of the land in the farming areas of Willcox, Safford, Buckeye, and Fort Thomas are sodic and will benefit from acid application. There is little ability to detect iron deficient soils, so little can be said about this potential except that it will be very limited in the near future. Finally, phosphorus deficiencies are not considered a significant problem in Arizona.

The most profitable rate of acid application will also

influence total sales. The evidence in this report

suggests that relatively low rates (Tables 21) -less than one -fourth ton per acre -were the most profitable.

These rates are significantly lower than those sometimes used in projecting the total amount of acid to be used by farmers in Arizona or the Southwest.

Acid use may also be limited by substitute farm inputs. For example, gypsum is a partial substitute for acid in the reclamation of sodic soil. One ton of gypsum is considered equal to 0.57 tons of acid. The current applied price of gypsum is approximately $16 per ton and the most common applied price of acid injected into the soil is $100 /ton plus $5 /acre. Thus, the applied price of "equivalent" amounts of gypsum and injected acid are:

Equivalents

Acid /Gypsum

Applied Cost per Acre

Acid Gypsum

.25 T = .43 T

.50 T =

.88 T

1.00T= 1.75T

1.50T =2.63T

2.00T =3.50T

$30

55

105

155

205

$ 7

14

28

42

56

14

Given these price and substitution conditions, gypsum is considerably less expensive than acid.

It is perhaps because of this price difference, plus new knowledge about soil reclamation, that sales of gypsum to Arizona farmers increased sharply in 1973 and

1974 (Table 22). There are reasons, however, why farmers might apply acid instead of gypsum, even given the cost differential. Acid alone can benefit sodic soils with very high pH characteristics and iron and phosphorus deficiencies.

TABLE 22

Gypsum Sold for Agricultural

Purposes in Arizona, 1956 -74 [17]

Year

1956

1957

1958

1959

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

Tons Sold

10,365

7,681

16,667

9,341

10,770

11,221

16,623

15,913

25,557

19,353

7,236

5,431

7,756

4,470

2,284

2,158

3,567

10,168

12,547

One frequently mentioned potential for acid is its use in preventing volatilization of anhydrous ammonia applied in irrigation water. Initial indications [28] are that approximately half of water -applied anhydrous ammonia may be lost through volatilization, but if three parts acid are added to each part (by weight) of NH3, nitrogen loss is cut to 20 percent. The most common levels of water run applications of NH3 on sorghum, cotton and wheat are 122 pounds per acre or less [4]. If at least 366 pounds of acid (3 x 122) are applied, 30 percent of NH3, or 36 pounds, would be saved. At July,

1975 NH3 prices of 7.5 cents per pound, this amounts to $2.70 per acre. The cost of water run acid ranges from $32 to $80 per ton. Even at $32 per ton, the cost of 366 pounds of acid is $5.58. Accordingly, if water run applications are economical, it is more a result of increased yield (discussed earlier) than of NH3 savings.

Finally, the limited number and, sometimes, quality of observations on yield response to sulfuric acid treatments must also qualify the implications. To our knowledge, all published research pertaining to yield response, the agronomic yield data of the University of

Arizona, and data from nearly all Arizona farmers who applied acid in 1974 were used in the analysis. Yet, the limited number of these observations, the fact that they pertain to rather specific soil conditions, and the imprecise nature of some of the data dictate that caution be used in extrapolating the results.

REFERENCES

1. Arizona Crop and Livestock Reporting Service, 1974 Arizona Agricultural

Statistics, Phoenix, Arizona, 1974. Also personal communications.

2. Beaton, J. D. and R. L. Fox, "Production, Marketing and Use of Sulfur Products," in R. A. Olson, et al., (eds.) Fertilizer Technology and Use, Soil Science

Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin, 2nd Ed., 1971.

3. Christensen and Lyerly. "Yields of Cotton and Other Crops as Affected by

Applications of Sulfuric Acid in Irrigation Water." Soil Science Society of

America Proceedings, Vol. 18, No. 7, 1954.

4. Cooperative Extension Service, 1975 Arizona Field Crop Budgets, University of Arizona, May 1975.

5. Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Arizona, "Commercial

Applicator Questionnaire," administered to acid retailers, 1974 -75.

6. Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Arizona, "Farmer Questionnaire," administered to Arizona farmers, 1975.

7. Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Arizona, "Smelter Questionnaire," administered to mine representatives, 1974.

8. Hathorn, S., "Know What it Costs to Own and Operate Farm Machinery-Run

LILMAC /BIGMAC," Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arizona, October 1974.

9. Hathorn, S., and Gene Wright, "1976 Arizona Farm Machinery Costs," Department of Agricultural Economics, Univeristy of Arizona.

10. Hazleton, Jared, The Economics of the Sulphur Industry, Resources for the

Future, 1970.

11. Jiler, Harry (ed.), Commodity Year Book 1973, Commodity Research Bureau,

Inc. 1973.

12. Kelley, W. P., "The Reclamation of Alkali Soils," University of California, Agricultural Experiment Station, Bulletin 617, 1937.

13. Mathers, Aubra C., "Effect of Ferrous Sulfate and Sulfuric Acid on Grain Sorghum Yield," Agronomy Journal, September- October 1970.

14. Miyamoto, S., Department of Soils, Water and Engineering, University of

Arizona, various conversations, 1974 -75.

15. Miyamoto, S. and Jack Stroehelin, "For Improving Water Penetration in Some

Arizona Soils- Sulfuric Acid," Progressive Agriculture, March -April 1975.

16. Miyamoto, S., J. Ryan and J. L. Stroehlein, "Potentially Beneficial Uses of

Sulfuric Acid in Southwestern Agriculture," Department of Soils, Water and

Engineering, University of Arizona, mimeo.

17. Office of the State Chemist, Arizona Annual Report: Commercial Fertilizers and Agricultural Minerals, various years.

18. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Industrial Reports, Inorganic Fertilizer

Materials.

19. Olsen, R. V., "Effect of Audifications, Iron Oxide Addition and Other Soil Treatments on Sorghum Chlorosis and Iron Absorption," Soil Science Society of

American Procedures, Vol. 15, 1950.

20. Overstreet, Martin and King, "Gypsum, Sulfur and Sulfuric Acid for Reclaiming an Alkali Soil of the Fresno Series," Hilgardia, November 1951.

21. Overstreet, Martin, Schultz, and McCutcheon, "Reclamation of an Alkali Soil of the Hacienda Series," Hilgardia, September 1955.

22. Schnell Publishing Co., Inc., Chemical Marketing Reporter, various 1974 issues.

23. Southern Pacific Transportation Company, letter of January 20, 1975.

24. Southern Pacific Transportation Company, telephone conversation, July 1975.

25. Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys, October 1973.

26. Stroehlein, J. L., et al.

,

"First Annual Report to the Arizona Mining Association on Potentially Beneficial Uses of Sulfuric Acid in Agriculture," July 31, 1973.

27. Stroehlein, J. L., et al., "First Quarterly Report to the Arizona Mining Association on Evaluation of Potentially Beneficial Uses of Sulfuric Acid in Agriculture,"

October 31, 1974.

28. Stroehlein, J. L., et al.

,

"Second Annual Report to the Arizona Mining Association on Potentially Beneficial Uses of Sulfuric Acid in Agriculture," July 31,

1974.

29. Stroehlein, Jack and A. D. Halderman, "To Increase Water Penetration: Sulfuric Acid for Soil and Water Treatment," Arizona Agri File, Q357 1975.

15

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