I take with an absolute pinch of salt, all these prophets of doom predicting that fertiliser prices will keep on rising into 2022.

In truth, no one really knows how the fertiliser market is going to act / react over the next six months.

It could well turn out that urea and CAN prices will be on the floor next March. Stranger things have been known to happen.

I would also add that no farmer with any gumption at all would consider buying fertiliser at the present time.

In the first instance, it is not needed at this time of the year. And, secondly, any product bought now will have a combined high price tag, plus the storage cost associated with it.

In short, we are talking voodoo economics.

I know that cereal growers would think of spreading a bit of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) at this time of the year, simply to get newly sown crop above ground.

But this approach is very much an insurance policy, one that is not needed, given the tremendous autumn that Irish agriculture as a whole is enjoying in 2021.

Fertiliser supplies

Stories of fertiliser theft taking place around the country, I sense, are flights of fancy.

Let’s stick to the facts. In the first instance, there is hardly a pickle of fertiliser in the country at the current time. Merchants stopped buying for the 2021 season weeks ago and since then, they have been sitting on their hands.

Obviously, they don’t want to be caught with previously acquired and expensive product in their stores next spring, if the market heads south before then.

I also feel confident in predicting that the quantities of fertiliser on-farm at the present time are equally low, so good luck to anyone wishing to abscond with some of stuff.

The old saying – ‘looking for a needle in a haystack’ – comes to mind.

Soil testing

And, of course there is always a silver lining to every cloud. Where high fertiliser prices are concerned, this comes in the form of a commitment by farmers to get out and soil test their land over the coming weeks.

Any field showing up with a pH value below 5.9 needs lime. And now is the perfect time to be getting on with that job.

Research has repeatedly confirmed that fertiliser uptake rates in fields with a pH value lower than 5.9, can be reduced by up to 50%.

When viewed in this light, fertiliser becomes a very expensive commodity on a large numbers of Irish farms, irrespective of what price it was bought at.