The price of chemical fertiliser has many farmers wondering about measures they can take to reduce costs for 2022.
At the Teagasc sectoral outlook, fertiliser prices were predicted to be 120% more expensive in spring 2022 compared to spring 2021.
This, according to Teagasc, will see net margins on farms decrease as input costs wipe out the high milk prices predicted.
This means that Teagasc predicts dairy farm net margins will decrease by 21% in 2022, when compared to 2021.
At the recent ‘Getting the Best Out of Slurry’ webinar, an increase of 170% in fertiliser price, from 2021 to 2022, was noted.
One option that many farmers seem to be considering to reduce costs is reducing fertiliser usage.
But, will reducing the amount of chemical nitrogen (N) spread have a negative impact on Irish dairy farms?
Speaking to Agriland, Dr. Joe Patton, head of the Teagasc knowledge transfer department, highlighted the importance of slurry on farms in spring 2022.
But Joe also stated that: “Slurry will get you so far; the spreading of chemical fertiliser will be required on farms in the spring of 2022.
“Although it will cost farmers more it will be required in February to make sure there is grass on the farm in March and April.
“There is no point in saying on a dairy farm, which may have a high stocking rate, that you are going to live without early N for early grass.
“It will end up biting you in April, when you run short on grass and silage or more concentrates have to be included in the diet.
“The rates of N at that time of the year are small but you get a good response from the N you spread.
“There is no point risking waterlogged ground or too cold of temperatures. Give it that extra 10 days or so to ensure you get that response of about 15:1 from your fertiliser,” Dr. Patton concluded.