Agronomy and crop protection company Agrovista has posted an 18% rise in profits for 2005, even though sales stood still at £70m.

Pre-tax profit hit £1.2m on the back of growth from the amenity services division, which puts turf on sports fields and manages public spaces, and from the business services division, Agrogate, which helps farmers with cross-compliance and environmental stewardship schemes.

Sales at the key agriculture division, which still makes up four-fifths of the business, bucked the market’s downward trend by maintaining sales and building market share.

Managing director James Robertson said industry sales of agricultural chemicals had crashed by 10% over the year, partly due to farmers’ weaker cash flow.

But he said agriculture would remain the firm’s core business for at least another five years.

“The next 18 months are going to be tough, but beyond that commodity prices, particularly cereals and oilseed rape, should start to rise as alternative uses start to become reality.”

Rising fuel costs had been partly off-set by efficiency made via a new stock checking tool which had cut inventories, he added.