Irish dairy farmers spent almost 20% less on fertiliser in 2016
Expenditure by Irish dairy farmers on fertiliser fell significantly in 2016, according to Teagasc.
The saving is significant with pasture and forage costs typically comprising about 20pc of total production costs on dairy farms. Fertiliser purchases comprise about half of the pasture and forage cost element, with contractor costs accounting for most of the remainder.
According to Teagasc, there was a significant decline in fertiliser prices in 2016. It says this reflected the decline in production costs internationally associated with lower energy prices.
Gas is by far the largest cost component of nitrogen based fertilisers. Irish fertiliser prices for 2016 as a whole were about 14pc lower than in 2015.
Teagasc also says that in 2016, for the third year in succession, nitrogen fertiliser sales nationally were relatively static.
It says this is notable given that the total cattle population, and in particular the dairy cow population has been on the increase in the last three years.
DAFM sales figures for 2016 indicate an across the board 1pc reduction in nitrogen (N),phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) sales in 2016 relative to the 2015 level.
Overall, Teagasc says taking account of the marginal change in the level of fertiliser sales and the significant decline in price, fertiliser expenditure per litre on the average dairy farms in 2016 is estimated to have fallen by 19pc compared with the 2015 level.