Farmers who have held off until now to secure fertiliser for 2022 should take action immediately, representatives from global fertiliser company Yara, have advised.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Eva Ross, the business manager for Yara Ireland, said the uncertain and complex situation surrounding Ukraine means it is too early to assess the overall impact on the company and the wider fertiliser industry.

“We will do our upmost to maintain supplies to our customers.

“But my advice to NI farmers is to talk to their merchants and co-ops, and make sure that they secure supplies, and get the product physically into their farm yards,” she said.

She acknowledged there has been an increase in local enquires since the end of last week, and that manufacturers in general are not running with plentiful stocks, given the high costs associated with making product.

Everyone has been keeping things tight, and we are the same as well

It had been hoped that gas prices might settle later this year, leading to lower fertiliser prices from midsummer onwards, so the entire industry has been holding back on carrying a lot of product.

“With all the uncertainty, it has not been a year to be filling yards with stock.

“Everyone has been keeping things tight, and we are the same as well,” said Ross.

She did not want to speculate as to what might happen to fertiliser price and availability in the months ahead.

Efficient use

Given the high prices already paid for fertiliser, it is vital to make sure it is efficiently used, added Yara grassland agronomist Philip Cosgrave.

He said the majority of farmers in NI should hold off on applying product, and instead rely on slurry for early growth.

Yield reliability in first cut is normally the best

“Wait until growth is a bit more reliable,” he said. However, he also points out that April and May tend to be the months when farmers get the best response from each unit of nitrogen (N) applied, so these are not the months to be cutting back on application rates.

“On drystock farms in particular, I am really concerned that farmers won’t optimise that April/May period.

“Yield reliability in first cut is normally the best. There is scope to peel back from June onwards without having so much of an impact on the amount of grass grown,” said Cosgrave.

He also highlights that most contractors charge on a per-acre basis.

Where fertiliser input is reduced, the crop might be cheaper to grow, but it will be lighter, of lower quality, and costs per tonne harvested will be similar to a scenario where higher rates of fertiliser were used.

There might also be the temptation to allow a first cut to grow an extra week, but once a grass crop heads out, any extra growth tends to be indigestible fibre, and protein levels will rapidly fall.

“In general, target your N at higher perennial ryegrass swards, prioritise your slurry for your silage ground and don’t forget about sulphur,” said Cosgrave.


A lot of the recent advice targeted at farmers has also been to fix low soil pH. At a pH of 5.5 only 77% of the N applied is available to the grass sward. However, if lime is applied to silage swards it is important to ensure it is washed into the soil well ahead of harvest.

You might get away with ground limestone now, but the longer you leave it, the higher the risk

The neutralising effect of lime could have a negative impact on subsequent silage fermentation.

“You might get away with ground limestone now, but the longer you leave it, the higher the risk. Granulated lime is a short-term fix, but you still want it applied fairly soon,” said Cosgrave.

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