Dr Thorne also highlighted that on the demand side, due to favourable prices for cereals at harvest 2018, there has been an increase in winter plantings of cereals internationally, which have a higher demand for fertiliser. Hence, an increase in demand for fertiliser is expected for 2019.
“With not much additional fertiliser supply from additional plants coming on stream in 2019, it is expected that supply and demand dynamics will cause an increase in fertiliser prices in Ireland in 2019,” she explained.
In its 2019 forecast, Teagasc assume that on average fertiliser use on dairy farms will be down 10pc relative to the 2018 level.
IFA's Fintan Conway has said that EU nitrogen prices are much more expensive than world prices.
He said the lack of competition has allowed EU fertiliser producers to push through very significant price increases over the last 5 months.
"New season CAN is up by over €50/t and ammonium nitrate by almost €75/t," he said.
Conway said the International Food Policy Research Institute 2016 report clearly identified that EU farmers were paying €1 billion too much for fertiliser. This was due to the combination of duties and tariffs which eliminated competition, he said.
IFA in an upcoming meeting with DG Trade will be calling on the Commission to conduct a full Union Interest Test which would clearly show that more needs to be done to align EU fertiliser prices to world prices. It will also be calling on the Commission to abolish the 6.5pc customs duty on certain non-EU fertiliser imports.
"This would result in a further €32/t reduction AN prices and help to bring EU prices more in line with world prices," he said.
EU agrees on maximum cadmium level in fertilisers
The European Union on Tuesday agreed on a cap for cadmium levels in fertilisers in a move welcomed by Russia’s Phosagro but greeted with some scepticism by a European industry lobby.
Cadmium is present in phosphate deposits in many countries, including in northwestern Africa, and the ore from these deposits is used to produce mineral fertilisers.
Tuesday’s preliminary decision, which has yet to receive final approval from the European Parliament and the bloc’s member states, sets a limit of 60 milligrams of cadmium per kilogram of fertilizer in a move the EU’s legislative said would promote organic fertilisers.
“The agreed text introduces limits for heavy metals, such as cadmium, in phosphate fertilisers to reduce health and environmental risks,” the European Parliament said in a statement, adding that the new limit would take effect three years after the new law is enacted.
Phosagro and Norwegian fertilizer maker Yara are potential winners, along with producers in South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, while rivals from Morocco and Tunisia stand to lose out because their products contain more cadmium, industry sources said.
The chief executive of Phosagro, Andrey Guryev, welcomed the decision, saying: “We will continue to sell our premium-quality products, which are well below the limits introduced.”
The European Parliament statement said that the EU imports more than 6 million tonnes of phosphate rock a year but could recover much more through recycling. It said that only 5 percent of waste organic material is being re-used as fertilizer in the bloc.
An EU mineral fertilizer industry lobby group broadly welcomed the preliminary agreement but said the 60 mg/kg limit was too harsh.
“We ... regret that the level of nutrients in mineral fertilisers was reduced,” Fertilizers Europe also said.