How we can help in the face of a global fertiliser shortage

The problems

The agricultural industry faces a perfect storm with a 40% reduction in European nitrogen fertiliser production amid soaring gas prices; China, Russia and Egypt prioritising domestic markets and the temporary closure of the only two nitrogen manufacturing plants in the UK.

One of those plants is now back online following a government bailout to safeguard the supply of CO2 for essential industries including food production and the humane slaughter of animals.

It is still unclear how long the Government support will continue in the face of rising natural gas prices.

There are also logistical issues at ports where the storage of potentially dangerous ammonium nitrate is strictly controlled.

Coupled with a lack of haulers and the attributed costs have rocketed. Due to the unusually high prices in the latter part of 2020, with some tripling year on year, many growers reduced the amount or delayed purchasing for as long as possible.

But delayed buying, the global picture and less trucks all point towards this spring’s fertiliser demand far outstripping the industry’s ability to supply.

How we can help our farmers

Mole Valley Farmers is busy sourcing from further afield to secure adequate stocks for our members.

The dedicated team at our blending facility in Newport dock is working hard to procure the best quality raw materials from around the globe.

Which is where Mole Valley Farmers has the edge. We have our own logistics and production facility so have full control of orders from start to finish.

Logistics Manager Reece Woolgar said: “I have been working hard to engage new and existing haulers in key geographical areas to ensure we are in the best position possible to deliver product to our members in a timely fashion, and to encourage early ordering we will continue to coordinate deliveries on a first come first serve basis.”

With a large proportion of the livestock sector’s fertiliser requirements yet to be bought, we are urging our members to make their purchases a minimum of eight weeks before their first spreading date.

We are recommending farmers order now if they are planning a first application in March.

Fertiliser spreaders should also be correctly calibrated to maximise the best returns on a valuable input. Size, shape, bulk density and granule strength may differ between manufacturers so greater attention should be paid this year to avoid potential yield reduction or crop striping.

Other ways to help mitigate increased nitrogen prices

  • Avoid application before heavy rainfall to reduce leaching losses
  • Increasing a pastures clover content can fix as much as 240kg N/ha – Source RB209
  • Using the MVF slurry additive improves nitrogen retention in dairy slurry
  • Fertiliser application timing to meet crop demand will improve utilisation
  • Soil pH must be no lower than 6.5 on arable and 6.2 on grassland

Due to the forecast of extended delivery lead times, we ask you to order your fertiliser well in advance to avoid delay or disappointment. For prices, availability and to place your orders call the Fertiliser Line on 01769 576405