When orders for fertiliser stop flowing in, as is usual during the planting season, the affect of the supply/ demand equation on pricing is tested, writes Roger Chesher. Pressure for prices to fall is heightened when, as is the case this season, there are also indications that plantings are down and therefore fertiliser requirements will be lower.

Oilseed rape area is said to be down 20% this autumn, along with a similar reduction for wheat. Conversely, spring barley and pulse volumes are set to rise with a decrease in the area of potatoes and sugar beet.

With UK fertiliser values still largely set by global pricing these changes are too small to bring prices tumbling down, but they should be enough to halt the upward spiral.

The next available tranche of nitrogen fertiliser from home producer GrowHow will be in January, with prices little changed from last month’s forecast. Imported AN, however, is available today at £355/t and urea prices have come back from £500 to £460-480/t.

Clearly these prices are not tempting enough as farmers are not ordering. Indeed, why bother, as there is little indication of significant change before Christmas.

One much hoped for change is the reduction of phosphate prices in international markets. The F.O.B. price has dropped by as much as $200-300/t, but for those farming in Britain this benefit has been largely negated by the weakness of sterling. Even so, a drop of £20/t to £680/t for TSP is welcome.

Potash prices are much the same, and a typical 0.24.24 autumn grade, the only ones currently selling in any volume, is around £590/t. Globally, pressures are still holding nutrient prices high.

China has managed to hold its domestic urea price to an equivalent of £150/t. But this has been achieved by applying an export tax of 175% leading to little urea being sold outside the country itself.

The Indian government is estimated to have spent only half its budgeted sum for subsidising internal fertiliser purchase. Demand there continues unabated.
No one even dares to speculate what the impact will be of current market crises but there is no reason to assume that the fertiliser industry will be in any way immune.

Great Britain

Straight

Domestic N
(34.5%N) SP5

Imported AN 
eg Lithuanian

Imported urea

Liquid UAN
37kg N/100litre

 (28.8 %N/t)

 

 

£410-413

January

Increasing volumes            current price £355

£460-480

£1.19/kg

 

 

 

 

TSP (47%P2O5)

£680 availability OK

 

Muriate of Potash (60%K2O)

£600

 

 

Compound

N.P.K

Complex

Blended

 

 

 

25.5.5

£414

Nov

Broadly similar

 

 

 

15.15.20

£ not available

 14.14.20

£590

 

 

 

20.10.10 / 27.5.5

£435 if offered

Broadly similar

 

 

 

17.17.17

Outpriced

None in production

16.16.16

£560-600

 

 

 

Aftercuts (NK) (with sulphur)

 

£419

 

 

 

23.4.13.7 Sulphur

 £426

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn grades (PK)

 

£500-600. dependant on analysis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trace elements

Copper, zinc, selenium,
cobalt Iodine and sodium

£11.80/acre pack


Ireland (All prices volatile)

 

Urea

CAN

25.0.13
aftercut*

27.0.6

27.6.6
complex**

Northern
Ireland

No market

Highly volatile spot prices

Highly volatile spot prices

Highly volatile spot prices

No longer used

Phosphate regulations

Republic
of Ireland

 

Highly volatile spot prices

Highly volatile spot prices

 

No Market.



Note in the Republic of Ireland nutrients are expressed as elements not oxides.  Analyses will not be directly comparable with those used in the UK.
*Known as 24.2½.10 blend in the Republic of Ireland
**Known as 27.2½.5 in ROI

Note All illustrated prices are based upon 24 tonne loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.

Source: Bridgewater