Having sat in on a number of industry webinars over recent days, it seems that price has become an almost secondary issue for the farming sectors, where fertiliser in 2022 is concerned.

The real focus of everyone involved now is on getting sufficient product into the country for the critically important months of March and April.

No doubt the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine are adding to fertiliser market uncertainty.

However, the advice coming from all the stakeholders involved is for farmers to get in touch with their merchants and fertiliser suppliers now.

And it’s an approach that makes obvious sense. If merchants are not aware of individual farmers’ intentions at this stage, it will be difficult for suppliers to factor in their specific needs as the season progresses.

2022 growing season

But it is far from being an ‘end of the world’ scenario for farmers as they look towards the 2022 growing season.

There is plenty of excellent advice to be availed of when it comes to developing the crop and grassland management plans that will take the industry through the first six months of 2022.

And securing additional finance should not be an issue for the vast majority of Irish farmers. Merchants will be ready and willing to play their part in this regard, as will the banks.

And, of course, the Cultivate organisation kicks off its loan scheme, which will be available through rural credit unions, on Monday, January 31.

As the old saying goes – ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Animal manures as fertiliser

There are more than significant quantities of animal manures to be accessed by farmers across the island of Ireland.

And I include within this list the vast quantities of broiler litter that are produced by the poultry sector in Northern Ireland.

I know that litter is not suitable on grassland but it is surely worth a look in the context of a spring cropping system, where the ground is ploughed prior to cultivation.

I also sense that 2022 will be the year when the usage of lime really takes off. Call it a soil conditioner or a fertiliser, it is the one product that has not gone up in price over the past year.

Yet lime’s potential to lift both yield and crop quality is jaw dropping.

Meanwhile, the prospects for grain, beef, milk and lamb prices remain extremely strong. I genuinely sense that if farmers can get through the next six months, the prospects for 2022 as a whole are genuinely very good.

I also get the feeling that if farmers can work their way through the fertiliser conundrum of 2022, the future demand for chemical nitrogen (N) in this part of the world will drop off significantly.

I refer again to my earlier point – ‘necessity really is the mother of invention’.