CRMA's affect on borate fertilizer supply

:: Thursday, May 2, 2024 :: Posted By Javier Jusué de Olives

European growers often face boron-depleted soils, especially with the high boron demand of crops such as canola, sugar beets, sunflowers, grapes, olives, and apples. Many farmers turn to unrefined borate products such as colemanite to address boron deficiency. But colemanite is a calcium borate. The presence of calcium makes it more difficult for plants to absorb boron, thus making it less available to crops.

Now, European farmers have another challenge: The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA), which states that no more than 65% of your annual consumption of a strategic raw materials, including borates, can come from a single third country.

Today, most of the boron fertilizer supply in the European Union (EU) comes from a single country: Turkey. Specialized, refined boron fertilizers from U.S. Borax can not only help diversify your borate source but may also better deliver this micronutrient to your crops.

Why refined borate fertilizer

In Europe, growers need a refined boron product that can deliver improved crop quality and yield. Climate, weather, and soil conditions vary widely across the region, as do crops. Fertilizer selection should address the specific needs of your crops and your fields.

When it comes to boron, product price is not always the best measure of true return on investment. A less expensive product can end up costing more over the long term if you need to purchase and apply more of it. Compared to competitors, our refined products are often the least expensive product in terms of the amount of plant-available active ingredient.

What you should know about CRMA

The CRMA was formally adopted by the European Parliament on 12 December 2023, and was approved by the Council on 18 March 2024. The goal is to not only diversify the EU’s critical raw materials imports, but also improve the capacity to monitor and mitigate the risks of supply chain disruption. The act is also focused on promoting circularity and sustainable sourcing practices.

The CRMA outlines 34 critical raw materials, 17 of which are classified as “strategic raw materials.” Boron is considered a strategic raw material—those most crucial for vital technologies used in the green, digital, defense, and space applications.

How will CRMA affect my business?

First, look at your fertilizer supply chain to better understand your borates’ origin and supplier. This will help you determine whether you need to adapt your sourcing strategy and diversify. A clear understanding will also make it easier to adhere to future CRMA supply chain transparency and reporting requirements.

Then, gather information about new borate partners. A fertilizer partner with a stable, reliable supply chain should be your primary concern. One who is well-versed in European growing seasons is a plus.

U.S. Borax: Our history in Europe

For more than 120 years, European growers have trusted our European operations—Borax Europe—to provide the refined borate fertilizer products they need.

We have three operational sites in Europe:

  • Coudekerque: Specialty grade production site with advanced equipment and testing capabilities designed for the agriculture industry
  • Rotterdam: Our largest European logistics hub, which hosts massive storage siloes with direct access to transportation networks
  • Nules: A strategically placed hub where we produce Granubor® via compaction and then pack it in IBCs for easy delivery
These sites are supported by our commericial office in Frankfurt, Germany, with a team fluent n multiple languages, eliminating barriers to conversations.

Why do growers choose us? Our local, technical knowledge, robust customer service, and stable regional distribution network. And, of course, our high-quality products many of which are suitable for organic farming.

Ongoing regional research

With changing climate conditions, local soil and crop knowledge is imperative if you want to increase your crop yield. That’s why we’re committed to conducting field trials in Europe. In fact, our study comparing boron in olive trees via soil and foliar application was just completed during the 2023/2024 growing season.

Responsive, local team

Unlike some suppliers in Europe, we have dedicated sales and customer service teams based in your time zone, enabling us to handle requests in real time. In addition, our local team has access to results from our global laboratories and agriculture partnerships.

Logistics leaders

All Borax Europe sites are strategically positioned to ensure efficient delivery and maximize storage capabilities for a secure and steady supply throughout the EU. We are backed by Rio Tinto’s commercial logistics and distribution system. Rio Tinto is the largest dry bulk shipper in the world.

Fertilizers designed to meet your needs

Our refinement process guarantees optimally sized, low-dust granules, perfect for mixing with other nutrients or fertilizers. Our refined boron products have little to no contaminants and are available for soil or foliar application as well as in a variety of fertilizer mixes. In addition, many of our fertilizers are OMRI Listed as suitable for organic farming. Learn more about our products.

Contact our local agriculture representative for more details on how CRMA may impact your boron fertilizer supply.


U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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