Continuing upward pressure on fertiliser prices is predicted byAgriculture Minister Simon Coveney.
He said prices have increased by 6-8% so far in 2015, due to global demand outstripping supply, and it is anticipated that world demand will continue to increase, keeping upward pressure on prices to the final consumer in Ireland.
He said no fertilisers are manufactured in Ireland, resulting in indigenous fertiliser companies being price-takers, dependent on global supply and demand and subject to Euro exchange rates against the US dollar and other currencies. Fertilisers (as with crude oil and gas) are mainly traded in US dollars and are thereby subject to fluctuations in currency. A weak euro means increased costs for fuel and fertiliser imports and this has impacted on recent price trends.
Currently, Europe is only 80% self-sufficient in fertiliser production and must import 20% of its requirements. European and Irish fertiliser prices are strongly linked to global prices and heavily influenced by supply and demand.
Minister Coveney said the price of fertilisers is an important issue for farmers, and the advice from Teagasc is for farmers to keep in contact with merchants, as prices often spike at periods of high demand, when European order books are full. Purchasing fertilisers at off-peak periods will help minimise prices.
Teagasc further advises that finding alternative sources of major nutrients will save money and farmers should consider the use of slurry to minimise expenditure on chemical fertilisers.
In addition, soil testing will prevent unnecessary applications.
On-farm fertiliser prices range from €330 to €450/tonne. Fertiliser costs are among the highest input costs in Irish agriculture at 20% on average, and can amount to double this for certain tillage crops.
Minister Coveney was responding in the Dail to Sinn Féin TD for Kerry North/Limerick West, Martin Ferris, and Fine Gael TD for Kildare South, Martin Heydon.
IFA has submitted a formal case for an investigation into market concentration and lack of price transparency in the fertiliser industry to Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
IFA President Downey said one tonne of grain bought one tonne of CAN in 1995; now, despite falling oil and gas prices, it takes 2.6 tonnes of grain, and fertiliser expenditure in Ireland has gone from €350m in 2001 to €565m in 2014, despite a significant reduction in usage.
ICMSA Farm Business Chairman Lorcan McCabe said farmers are under continuing pressure from steady year-on-year price inflation for inputs such as fertiliser, despite the plunge in international oil and gas prices.
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