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This paper deals initially with the role of mineral fertilizers in increasing agricultural production: the relationship between the two variables is illustrated within global, regional national and local contexts. The pattern and trends in fertilizer usage in Brazil are presented next, namely: increase in consumption in the period 1950/72; regional distribution; consumption as related to crops and cultivated land. It is shown that in less than a quarter or century fertilizer use has increaseddoi:10.1590/s0071-12761973000100022 fatcat:4ga3dqrjvbb67m2q7445kx3yce