What’s your nitrogen buying policy?

Andrew Gloag, North Yorkshire

Alarmed by reported prices for June delivery of around 155/t (Farmers Weekly, 19 May), Mr Gloag is reviewing the use of nitrogen fertiliser on every crop.

“The incentive is to go for as much first wheat and break crops as possible (eg spring beans and oilseed rape) and reduce the reliance on second wheat.

“The potential is there with first wheat, but unless wheat prices are near 80/t, second wheat isn’t going to stack up.”

All liquid fertiliser is usually bought between the Cereals Event and harvest and he plans on doing the same this year, when cropping plans have been finalised.

Nigel Horne, Berkshire

“We haven’t done a cropping plan yet, although if prices are there [155/t] or higher, we might reduce the amount of nitrogen applied.

“But we grow mainly milling wheat and have got to hit 13% protein, so may end up applying the same amount as normal.

New crop oilseed rape prices also seem to be going up, so it will be difficult to justify cuts in nitrogen rates.

We’ll wait to see how the market settles down.”

Richard Solari, Shropshire

After being quoted 154/t for June delivery of 34.5% N (and an extra 3 per month thereafter), Mr Solari fears any rise in crop prices this year will be passed straight to fertiliser manufacturers.

“It suits us not to have fertiliser on farm until as late as possible, once the harvested crops are out of the way.”

He is buying a new sprayer and is considering switching to liquid N to help spread the cost of the new machine.

“We will delay any decision until after the Cereals Event.”

Troy Stuart, Devon

Mr Stuart has already bought all of next season’s nitrogen – about 800-900 tonnes in total.

“If you’ve got the space to store it and the cash flow, it’s best to buy it as early as you can.

The UK market isn’t oversupplied and we’re not getting the quantity of imports to help reduce prices.”

Ben Atkinson, Lincs

“Storage is a big issue for us – last year we used 1400t of [liquid] nitrogen and if you’re storing that amount as a solid, the regulations are very strict.

We’ve got the bulk tanks already, so are prepared to buy now if the price is right.”

John Barrett, Suffolk

Mr Barrett plans to maximise the use of organic N next season, by using more duck/turkey manure and sewage sludge, applied after oilseed rape, vining peas and fallow.

“We’re not relying on inorganic fertiliser.”

Fields are tested for soil N and all fertiliser is bought through the Sentry buying group.

John Hutcheson, Fife

Lost spreading days due to windy weather and striping patterns from uneven solid fertiliser distribution mean Mr Hutcheson is looking to use liquid nitrogen with sulphur next season.

“We tried liquid N on 200 acres of spring oats this year and it seemed to work well, so we’re looking to source half to two thirds of N fertiliser as liquid.”

He is also trialling municipal waste compost, spread on set-aside or winter stubbles and hopes to use more in future seasons and substitute some artificial N, P and K.


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