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.
CURRENT PRICES (£/t)
Domestic N (34.5%N) SP5
Muriate of Potash(60%K2O)
20.10.10 / 27.5.5
|Autumn grades (PK)|
|Copper, zinc, selenium,|
cobalt Iodine and sodium
Straight and compound
Republic of Ireland†
|No market||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 prices are based on 24t loads for immediate payment. Prices for smaller loads and those with credit terms will vary considerably.
Author: Roger Chesher