Cheaper fertiliser imports from Northern Ireland are putting increasing pressure on merchants to cut prices. A backlog of existing higher-priced fertiliser stocks overhangs the market.

There is a €200/t differential in urea prices (€650/t to €850/t) across the Republic of Ireland, while CAN prices range from €570/t to €730/t this week.

Some farmers have started sourcing fertiliser directly from Northern Ireland.

John Murphy, IFA grain committee vice-chair, has imported CAN at €560/t and SulphaCAN at €570/t from Northern Ireland.

“In a rising market, the mantra was ‘fertiliser must be sold at its replacement cost’, so the same should apply now. It can’t be heads we win, tails you lose,” Murphy said.

While it is only a small tonnage in relation to the overall fertiliser market, the gap in prices is so large that every imported lorryload from across the border is affecting farmers’ attitudes.

If the gap were smaller, the sense across the market is that farmers would deal with their usual supplier.

Farmers are holding strong for now, with weather dulling immediate demand.

Meanwhile, with international gas prices at their lowest level since 2021, fertiliser prices look set to fall further.

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