Sulphur use could cut farmers’ nitrogen bills

NITROGEN PRICES and their link to energy costs have focused buyers’ attention this season almost to the exclusion of other nutrients.

Sulphur continues to increase in agronomic importance as a nutrient but is far less aggressively traded than nitrogen.

Three parts of nitrogen with one of sulphur will often out-perform four of nitrogen alone, and at lesser cost, yet sulphur continues to miss the full attention it deserves.

Unlike nitrogen, sulphur production is not directly linked to energy, being, initially, a mined element whereas nitrogen is fixed from the atmosphere.

In fertiliser manufacture it is originally sourced as sulphuric acid but purchased as ammonium sulphate, a by-product from a variety of industries.

At 21N 60SO4 the sulphur content of ammonium sulphate is too high for direct application so in compound fertiliser manufacture it is diluted with more nitrogen to get the most effective proportions of N to S for different crops.

Typical arable analyses include 27N 30SO4 and 27N 12SO4 which should be available on farm at £158 and £148/t delivered respectively.

At £155/t for ammonium nitrate, nitrogen is currently valued at £4.50 per unit, which, in the case of 27N 30SO4 means that the nitrogen value of 27N is £121, leaving 30 units of SO4 at £37 as a remarkably cheap addition.

Time therefore perhaps for a refocus, in a week where harvest and holidays have meant no changes whatsoever in fertiliser sales or pricing.


Great Britain


Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5

Nov £157-158

Imported AN 
Lithuanian & Bulgarian


Imported urea

£195 granular
£195 prills (where available)

Liquid UAN
37kg/100litres (29.6%N/t)

No market

TSP (47%P2O5)


Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)








From £138




20.10.10 / 27.5.5


From £140




Aftercuts NK



27.6.6 (imported)



32.5.0 (imported)


Autumn grades (PK)



Trace elements

Copper, zinc, selenium,
cobalt Iodine and sodium

£11.10/acre pack


Straight and compound


Northern Ireland

Republic of Ireland†


No market No market
CAN £132 €162+

24.6.12 aftercut*

No market

No market




27.6.6 complex**


€230-245+ (CCF)
€230-235 import blend

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  prices are based on 24t loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.
Source: Bridgewater

Author: Roger Chesher


Ask the... Breeder

Register now

Online grain trading made easy with Farmers Weekly Graindex

It takes just a couple of minutes to create a listing on Farmers Weekly Graindex and you’ll get a range of prices to compare from active buyers who want your grain.
Visit Farmers Weekly Graindex

Farm succession planning during the Covid-19 crisis

Register now