With fertilizer prices predicted to increase by 7% this year, many farmers have been questioning the reasons behind the rise, particularly against a backdrop of low oil prices. However, an investigation by the EU Commission has found that the price of European nitrogen fertilizers is directly linked to the natural gas sector, as it is the main input for nitrogen production in Europe.

The commission findings show there is a “strong segmentation” in the world gas market, with the EU price around three times higher than the US, where shale gas is driving the price down. Natural gas in the EU is mainly imported from Russia and Norway, where prices are 30% ahead of the US. Gas is also imported from Algeria, which is 18% dearer.