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No need for extra precautions with protected urea - Teagasc

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Teagasc has said that farmers using protected urea should adopt the same safety precautions as with any other fertiliser.

The State advisory body's comments follow the publication of advertisements in the farming press which advised farmers working with protected urea to only do so "in a well-ventilated area".

The ad from the Irish Fertiliser Manufacturers and Blenders Association (IFMBA) also cautioned farmers to wear "gloves and a face mask" and "appropriate eye protection", and to "avoid contact with the skin" when handling protected urea.

The switch over to protected urea from ordinary urea and CAN is a key plank of Teagasc's strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the farm sector.

This will require a massive lift in usage of protected urea by Irish farmers, with sales needing to grow from 27,000 tonnes in 2019 to over 250,000t in the next three to five years. Sales of ordinary urea topped 110,000 tonnes in 2019, while CAN usage amounted to 450,000 tonnes.

A Teagasc spokesman expressed confidence in protected urea and pointed out that similar user guidelines were employed for a range of fertilisers, including ordinary urea and CAN.

"As with handling all fertilisers, suitable PPE [personal protective equipment] should be worn. Like all fertilisers the product is covered by EU fertiliser regulations and Irish fertiliser regulations," he said.

Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland also expressed confidence in protected urea, and said the dairy sector was engaging with the Department of Agriculture, Teagasc and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland with regard to scientific testing of the product.

Meanwhile, the IFA has accused Yara, Europe's largest nitrogen manufacturer, of attempting to spook the market by announcing a significant hike in its EU wholesale benchmark CAN price.

"Yara's new price list announcement of €200/t and €203/t for bulk CAN - €30/t above the prevailing market quotes - was designed to panic trade buyers and farmers into purchasing nitrogen at an artificially inflated price," said Tom Short, IFA South Leinster regional chairman, who claimed the move would not work as the EU market was "awash with bulk CAN on offer at €170/t".

Fertiliser sales have been slow this year due to the poor weather. Deals were concluded before Christmas at €230/t for CAN in big bags, with bulk €15/t under this price. However, buyer group deals have been concluded closer to €200/t for big bags delivered, with granular urea around the €300/t mark.

CAN is generally being quoted at €210/t to €225/t, and from €310/t to €325/t for urea. Keenest quotes for Pasture Sward are around the €320/t price mark, with Cut Sward €5/t over this level.

Indo Farming