New research shows fall in fertiliser usage on farms
A new Fertilizer Use Survey by Teagasc indicates long term reduction in fertiliser usage on Irish farms.
The study is based on analysis of over a decade’s worth of data collected by the Teagasc National Farm Survey.
It covers the years 2005 to 2015, a period when Ireland has been bound by the EU Nitrates Directive regulations governing fertilizer use.
The study, focuses on the usage of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and lime, with detailed analysis, by farm system, land use class, stocking rate, nitrate zone and agri-environment scheme participation.
The study indicates that nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizer application rates on grassland tended to be between 11-16pc higher at the start of the study period compared to the end, with more dramatic declines in application rates noticeable in the mid-study period (23-52pc).
The years of lowest grassland fertilizer use (2008-09) coincided with the period of highest fertilizer prices, while higher than average period application rates in 2013-2014 were associated with the aftermath of a national fodder shortage.
Similarly the report finds that fertilizer application rates on cereal land were lower in the higher price period of 2008-09. Comparing 2005 with 2015, showed that nitrogen application rates on cereal land actually increased by about 10pc.
Phosphorus application rates on cereal land in 2015 were broadly in line with usage levels in 2005. Potassium application rates on cereal land showed the largest increase, up 33 percent in 2015 relative to 2005.