Bulk fertiliser spreading: How much does it cost?

Now that the fertiliser prohibited period has come to an end, some farmers are busy agitating and emptying slurry storage units. However, adverse weather conditions are playing havoc across the country, as land remains waterlogged and impassable in many places

The prohibited period for chemical compounds also lifted on January 13 in the south-east and on January 16 in the midlands and west. The prohibited period for the northern counties will end on January 31, which is set out under the Nitrates Directive.

Chemical fertiliser means any fertiliser that is manufactured by an industrial process; this encompasses artificial fertiliser products containing nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P).

AgriLand recently caught up with some agricultural contractors and merchants to see the range of prices currently being quoted to get fertiliser spread. Quotes were given either on a per tonne spread or per hour basis.

If prices are on a per hour basis, it would depend on individual farm layout; location; spreading rate; and spreader size.

fertiliser
Image source: Adrian Leech Photography

The first merchant gave a quote of €70/hour. The spreading of the fertiliser is contracted out to an agri-contractor. A number of different size spreaders are used and these start at a capacity of 9t.

The spreaders are pulled by tractors with 50kph transmissions and are equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) system. The farmer is charged from when the contractor arrives on the farm until the job is complete.

A second merchant quoted a price of €30-35/t. When using a precision spread or variable rate mechanism, the price increases to €36/t.

The same merchant contracts out the spreading to local contractors. The size of the spreaders range from 5t to 10t. All the tractors used have 40-50kph gearboxes and GPS on-board. In addition, if the fertiliser is being applied at a light rate, the merchant normally charges per job.

An agri-contractor in Co. Wexford quoted a price of €30/t (excluding VAT). When spreading at a lower rate, the contractor normally charges on a per hour basis. The price quoted was €30/hour. A 9t spreader is used and is pulled by a tractor with a 50kph transmission.

Another merchant quoted €60/hour (including VAT). A 6t Bogballe spreader is used. The tractor used has a 50kph transmission, GPS and a mapping system.

Image source: Adrian Leech Photography

Furthermore, an agri-merchant quoted €28/t. This merchant provides the spreader and a contractor provides a driver and tractor. A 10t Bredal spreader is used. The tractors are equipped with GPS, a Headland Management System (HMS) and have 50kph gearboxes.

Out of all the merchants and contractors interviewed, none had started spreading yet. This week has seen ground temperatures rise slightly. However, the inclement weather means that it is simply impossible to commence spreading.

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