JULY STOCKS and manufacturing volume of ammonium nitrate have already virtually run out as early season sales boom.
Last year, farmers recognised a bargain when they saw one, hence the response this time round.
Nitrogen is more expensive than expected, but buyers are increasingly aware of spiralling energy costs and understand that prices are unlikely to come down.
Indeed, suppliers are sticking to their stated intention of matching sales to increases in gas pricing, thus August and September AN prices go up by £2/t each month.
It makes sense, therefore, to buy at least part of the annual nitrogen requirement as soon as possible.
That global nature of the energy crisis is well illustrated by the fact that importers find it hard to source fertiliser to compete on the British market.
Export offers are few and far between as foreign manufacturers cope with buoyant home demand and find alternative markets more lucrative than ours.
But there is a real need for imports into the EU, with 4.5m tonnes of AN equivalent needed to bridge the gap between demand and availability.
The laws of supply and demand ensure that it will reach these shores eventually, when the price is right, which means global prices falling, or ours rising.
It is hard to accept that the price of nitrogen is set to be higher for the foreseeable future but it remains a valuable resource giving a financial return in excess of 3:1.
The challenge is to use it efficiently, in conjunction with other, cheaper nutrients, most particularly sulphur, which is still grossly undervalued.
CURRENT PRICES (£/t)
Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5
Imported AN Lithuanian & Bulgarian
£130 where available
Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)
20.10.10 / 27.5.5
|Copper, zinc, selenium,|
cobalt Iodine and sodium
|£200 (existing stocks only)||€270-280|
(dependant on source and quality)
†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.