Farm Ireland

Friday 19 January 2018

Nitrogen price drop

Wholesale nitrogen prices have been dropping.
Wholesale nitrogen prices have been dropping.

The big news in the market this week has been the dramatic drop in international wholesale nitrogen prices, which comes at a time when crops are really beginning to take off in the fields.

Grass growth rates of over 100kgDM/ha have been recorded over the last week as temperatures move into the high teens and low twenties. For the most part, crop sowings are complete after a difficult spring.

The silage season has got off to a late start. However, good growing conditions should see some catch up over the coming days and weeks.

The big drop in nitrogen prices is due to a €35-40/t fall in bulk CAN from Germany and Belgium leave prices off the boat at €157/t to €162/t, said the IFA's Fintan Conway.

Mr Conway said farmers should be vigilant over the coming weeks when purchasing fertiliser as the trade will try to wash out existing stocks at higher prices. However, Irish farm gate prices for buyer groups and volume buyers should drop to close to €200/t over the coming weeks.

European nitrogen manufacturers had resisted lowering prices for much of the early part of the year but eventually caved in as European fertiliser demand for the current season, which is moving to a close, is expected to be down by a minimum of 10pc in response to the collapse in commodity prices.

Irish demand is also expected to fall, but to a lesser extent, to somewhere between 4-7pc. Growing conditions over the coming weeks and months will be the big determining factor. One of the main objectives of the IFA new president, Joe Healy, is to galvanise EU farm lobby groups to pressurise the EU to lower tariffs on fertiliser.

A report commissioned by the IFA claims that protection afforded to EU manufacturers in the form of anti-dumping duties of up to €47.07/t and customs tariffs of 6.5pc is costing farmers close on €1bn per annum.

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The report said that the abolition of duties would deliver a minimum of 17,245 jobs, and possibly 100,000 in the best-case scenario.

Indo Farming