Total fertiliser sales fell by 18% for the second year running in 2023 to 1.1 million tonnes, according to figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today (Wednesday, May 8).

Nitrogen (N) content of fertiliser sales fell by 18% at 280,569t and phosphorus (P) content of sales were down 10% at 30,762t.

Meanwhile, lime sales decreased by 27% in 2023 to 1 million tonnes.

In the 2023 crop year, 50% of fertiliser sales took place in the three months from April to June.

Statistician in the CSO environment division, Clare O’Hara said that quarterly sales data can give an indication of the time of year of “greatest fertiliser use”.

“For each year from 2015 to 2023, at least 75% of fertiliser sales took place between January and June, with less than 10% occurring between October and December.

“In 2023, 50% of fertiliser sales were in April to June while 25% were in January to March. Loss of nutrients to the environment is affected by the amount of rainfall at the time of fertiliser application,” O’Hara said.

Fertiliser sales

Fertiliser purchases in Ireland were just over 1.7 million tonnes in 2000, the highest of the time period from 2000 to 2023.

Sales were at their lowest in 2009 at 1.2 million tonnes before reaching 1.7 million tonnes again in 2018 and in 2021. 

Source: CSO

The N content of fertilisers sold in Ireland was 407,598t in 2000.

Sales fell to the lowest level during the period 2000-2023 in 2011 at 295,795t. It remains the highest recorded in 2018 at 408,495t.

P content was at its highest level of the period 2000-2023 in 2000 at 49,267t, and was lowest in 2009 at 20,231t.

In 2023 there were 30,762t of P in fertilisers sold in Ireland. 

Lime sales were at their highest of the period 2000-2023 in 2022 at 1.4 million tonnes.

This was an increase of 4% on 2021, which in turn had shown an increase of 50% on 2020.