Argentina, a large country with an important agriculture industry, needs an ever-increasing amount of phosphorus and potassium, as essential elements for plant growth. Current requirements are met from imports, but potential resources exist in Argentina. For example, several phosphatic occurrences are known in paleo-marine basins, the most significant of which are in Tertiary units in Patagonia. In addition, two types of potassium deposits are also known in Argentina: evaporite deposits in the Neuquén Basin at depths of 750 m to 1500 m contain 22 to 25 wt% K2O equivalent; and glauconitic sandstone containing about 6 wt% K2O has been identified in Patagonia.
Several experiments were undertaken to test unprocessed phosphate rocks as slow-release, direct-application fertilizers, with good results. In addition, it is proposed that direct application of glauconitic sands would provide an efficient and economic alternative source of potassium. Tests with glauconite samples are still in progress.
The existence of both phosphate and glauconitic rocks in Patagonia suggests that development of an extractive industry for these materials would not only help Argentina approach self-sufficiency in fertilizer usage, but also assist in the socio-economic development of this region.