In its latest advisory update for tillage farmers, Teagasc advises farmers not to expect large savings in fertiliser bills this year despite low oil prices.

It says world fertiliser supply is currently tightly matched to demand forecasts for 2015.

According to Teagasc, the falling price of oil should have a bigger effect on nitrogen (N) than base fertiliser prices but manufacturing capacity has greatly reduced in Europe over the past 10 years, which reduces the effect.

The advice from Teagasc is to budget for similar fertiliser costs in 2015 as in 2014 and keep in contact with merchants as prices often spike quite quickly in spring when European order books begin to fill.

It says one of the most productive jobs you will do in January is to sit down with your adviser/merchant and plan your fertiliser strategy.

Teagasc says crop nutrition accounts for approximately 50% of the material costs of growing cereals.

It says the cost difference between fertilising a field with high fertility (phosphorus [P] and potassium [K]) compared to a low fertility field can be as much as €200/ha.

Teagasc advises that finding alternative sources of major nutrients will save money so you should think creatively about getting supplies or getting the best use from current supplies.

It says farmers should consider the following options, which should help increase profitability in spring crops in low fertility sites:

  • Co-ordinate slurry applications with field cultivations;
  • Use the land bank as ‘export’ opportunity for over stocked farmers;
  • Use existing (perhaps unused) storage facilities to store slurry out of season;
  • Link slurry supply (cattle/pig, etc.) to supply of grain (preferential grain spec for supply, e.g., higher protein, etc.); and,
  • Only aim to supply half of the P and K requirements from the manure.