IF THE BRITISH fertiliser market is considered slow then the Irish one is virtually moribund.
Just 25,000t of fertiliser were delivered to farm in the Republic during the last quarter of 2004, compared to 56,600t the year before.
Manufacturers are also reporting the worst January ever for Northern Ireland with the month of February not much better.
It seems that Irish merchants and distributors are not replacing stocks in the hope that a stale market will force prices down.
Farmers are also displaying strong price resistance, unaware, perhaps, that price is not a local issue but dependant on global market forces.
Ireland no longer has a domestic nitrogen producer and is now totally reliant upon imports, so if the island fails to present an attractive market, product will be sold elsewhere.
Certainly, prices have shown no sign of weakening since FARMERS WEEKLY last reported on them.
Though consumers are unsure of their requirements this spring, sales statistics indicate that business in the usage period will be very brisk.
This presents a problem, as transport availability is finite and may not cope.
The fertiliser industry has issued warnings concerning spring shortages for many years, with few farmers ultimately failing to receive their orders.
But the point about the fable of crying “wolf” is that warnings ignored are ultimately paid for, and with markets tightening it seems inevitable that farmers will one day miss out.
Could this be the season for the Irish market?
CURRENT PRICES (£/t)
Imported AN Lithuanian
£147 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)
|CAN||£150||€220 large variations|
†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.