Some of the figures from the recent Teagasc fodder survey confirm the scale of the problems that lie ahead for drystock farms. It shows that 49% of drystock farmers had no nitrogen spread on grazing ground by 14 April 2022.

Given the good weather conditions that we have had, there is obviously a conscious decision being made not to purchase fertiliser or not being able to purchase fertiliser.

Some 45% of drystock farmers plan to cut nitrogen rates on grazing ground by up to 30% in 2022, while 27% of farmers plan on cutting fertiliser applications by 30% to 50%.

Speaking to merchants in the west of Ireland, they say there is no demand for fertiliser at the moment.

Dairy farmers have all purchased the same volume of fertiliser as last year and carried on as normal. Many drystock farmers have spent the same amount of money but this has left them with less than half the volume of fertiliser being purchased. This has been concentrated on silage fields with no fertiliser spread on grazing ground.

'Can't afford to fill them'

One merchant told the Irish Farmers Journal: “We have lads coming in here putting five or six 50kg bags of fertiliser in spreaders that hold a tonne because they can’t afford to fill them.”

There is a worry that given the low level of fertiliser being spread that the country could experience a fodder crisis next winter. There is also a huge worry on what effect this will have on the cattle trade.

There is fear about how this could pan out for the autumn cattle trade.

Talks of high culling rates in both dairy and suckler herds ahead of an expensive winter in terms of feed costs could have a huge impact on the autumn beef trade.

Read more in Beef Trends here.