The introduction to the volume provides an overview of processes in the industrialization of agriculture in the 19th and 20th centuries with regard to fertilisation. It explains the interplay between the intensification of fertiliser usage and agricultural output which enabled immense population growth. It shows how chemical discoveries surrounding nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus (NPK) eventually led to a diversification of markets and the formation of big fertiliser businesses. Indeed, every specific fertiliser chain was linked to a wide set of markets and institutions, as to stakeholders with various and potentially conflicting interests. This issue aims to shed light on this aspect within several regions across Europe and beyond.
This special issue is the result of three panels on the topic co-organised by Laurent Herment (CNRS France), Arnaud Page (Sorbonne University Paris) and Christine Strotmann (Humboldt University Berlin) held at the European Rural History Organisation (EURHO) Conference in September 2017 in Leuven, Belgium. We would like to thank the EURHO for the chance to come together there and discuss the topic at length, and of course all scholars present for the lively debate during the panels and discussions. We also would like to thank the GDRI-AAA funded by CNRS. We would especially like to thank Michael Moss for his contribution. Michael sadly passed away in January 2021 before his article was published in this volume. We got to know Michael as both a knowledgeable academic and kind person and are sure he will be missed by many.
© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston