Irish farmers spent more collectively on fertilisers in 2013 than any year since records began since 1990, with a spend of €615m last year. The figures, which are up 24.6 per cent on 2012 values, are recorded in the Central Statistics Office’s output, input and income in agriculture figures for 2013.

As all farmers know fertiliser prices have been on an endless upward curve in recent years, rising at a steady rate over the last decade. However, last year’s figures are quite a leap above previous year’s trends.

Compared to farmers spend on fertiliser in 2000, prices have increased by 81 per cent. Commenting on the figures for 2013, ICMSA president John Comer said: “It’s impossible not to be worried by the continuing and largely ignored by successive governments trend that sees inordinate input costs inflation go unchecked.”

He said: “Farmers will look anxiously as the nearly €613m spent on fertilisers in 2013 and note that cost was up 24.6 per cent on 2012. The ICMSA has drawn attention on numerous occasions to the startling, long-term, upward trend of fertiliser costs,” Comer.

Although the weather in recent weeks has not helped, the minds of some farmers will be on prices for fertilisers in 2014.

The IFA this week published its Fertiliser Price Survey for February where it notes that upward pressure on prices are apparent in all regions.

According to its inputs project team: “The trade has moved to push through price increases on some products as replacement costs particularly for CAN and DAP (phosphate) have moved higher. However, local competition for volume business has kept a lid on price rises.”

Its price survey for ‘big bags’ delivered shows that Granular Urea prices are ranging from €360-€385. Prices for 10-10-20 are between €390-€425. Latest CAN prices are in the region of €270-€315.

On the overall market the team noted: “Wholesale prices possibly have peaked at this stage with bulk CAN cif Germany at €253/t this week. This is up €60/t on October/November quotes. Recent disruption at two EU manufacturing plants has tightened supply enabling manufacturers to push through price increases.”

It also said: “Wholesale urea purchases for the season are complete at this stage with retail prices unlikely to increase over the next few months. Urea on a per kg N basis represents the best for money. One kg on N from urea is approximately €0.80 compared to €1.07.”

The team also highlight that recent research from Teagasc has shown that urea performs equally as well as CAN right through early and mid-season. It cited: “Urea use has fallen in recent years from approximately 100,000t to 60,000t. Earlier fears of a shortage of urea are unlikely to materialise given the fall off in use.”

Fertiliser spreading on grassland. Photo O’Gorman Photography